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Ask an Expert about Macular Degeneration

Latest Questions and Answers
My mom was diagnosed with macular degeneration and has been receiving eye injection treatments. The doctor hopes to contain the disease in her right eye; however, she says there is no hope for the left eye at all. Would it also make sense for her to have injections in the left eye in an effort to prevent the degeneration from getting worse? [ 03/15/11 ]

The wet type of age related macular degeneration (ARMD) is typically treated with eye injections with Lucentis or Avastin. If the wet ARMD has progressed to the point where a scar has formed, the eye injections will not have any further benefit. Since every injection can be uncomfortable and is associated with a small risk of complications, it is important not to undergo treatments that do not provide any definitive advantage. Please clarify with your retina specialist if the eye injections would have any beneficial impact on the expected slow central visual deterioration in your mother's left eye.


My daughter is 20 years old, and she developed a blind spot, so I took her to see an optometrist. He said that an artery was pushing through her retina, and was seeping blood. He said that it was like macular degeneration. I would like to know what would cause these symptoms in such a young person. [ 03/14/11 ]

Age-related macular degeneration is extremely uncommon before the age of 50. Bleeding in the retina can signify many problems, some of which are serious, such as blood cell disorders, clotting problems, inflammation of the blood vessels etc. If your daughter truly has bleeding in the back of the eye it is important that you promptly have her evaluated by an ophthalmologist to determine the cause, provide advice concerning further medical tests that are needed, and to what treatment(s), if any, are appropriate.


I am confused and frightened! Approximately 12 years ago I was told that I had age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and was immediately given the dye test. Then, 4 years ago, I was told that I did not have ARMD, but rather an epiretinal membrane. After my eye surgery for the epiretinal membrane, I then developed a macular hole, which only closed somewhat. This was followed by an injection of a gas bubble into my eye, and 12 days of lying face down. This trauma was followed by cataract surgery on both eyes. The vision in my right eye is 20/50, and 20/20 in my left eye. I was recently told that I was developing ARMD and given a prescription for progressive lenses. I can see no better; small letters and the computer give me particular problems. In view of the above, would you recommend a second opinion? [ 03/10/11 ]

You describe several issues with your eyes, including possible age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), epiretinal membrane surgery, macular hole surgery, cataract surgery, and need for progressive lenses (presbyopia). Your underlying complaint sounds like it is related to having a difficult time reading and using the computer, which could be due to a variety of reasons that are related to your ocular history. Your bothersome visual symptoms may be due to something as simple as your glasses prescription, or to something more complicated like progressive ARMD. It is very reasonable to get a second opinion from a local retina specialist or from a university medical center. Provide the new doctor(s) with all of your previous records as that will expedite the process of obtaining their advice.


I am seeking a cure for a longstanding case of diabetic cystoid macular edema. Can you tell me about any treatments or cures that are available for this eye disease? [ 03/03/11 ]

Longstanding diabetic cystoid macular edema can be very difficult to reduce or eliminate. Treatments include tight control of blood sugar, laser therapy, steroid injection, anti-VEGF injections, or a combination of one or more of these options. Many have these therapies have demonstrated moderate levels of success for patients with diabetic macular edema. However, in cases of longstanding diabetic edema, even if the fluid resolves there can be permanent damage to the retina that prevents much visual improvement. Currently, no treatments exist to repair this structural damage to the retina after longstanding macular edema.


I have wet macular degeneration and have received 6 Avastin injections thus far. At the end of December, I suffered a stroke, which was described as a right ventricular infarct. My primary care doctor has told me to stop the injections immediately as he believes they are the cause of the stroke. My retina specialist told me that it is my choice as to whether or not I wish to continue the treatments. I am 57 years old and drive for a living. If I stop the injections, do I have other options that will help save my sight? Thanks. [ 03/02/11 ]

The question you ask is extremely complex and currently the research does not exist to give a definite answer. Intraocular injections of anti-VEGF agents such as Avastin and Lucentis have been linked to a slightly increased risk of stroke. To say that Avastin was the only cause of your stroke however would likely not be accurate.

There are other alternatives to Avastin and Lucentis injections for wet macular degeneration, such as Macugen injections and photodynamic therapy; however, the results in preserving and improving vision with these therapies are not as good. Please discuss with your retina surgeon if a temporary cessation of Avastin might be in order, so that you might try an alternative therapy, such as Macugen.


I have age-related macular degeneration. Why are my eyes sometimes blurry? The blurriness occurs mostly in the mornings. I have lens implants in both eyes from previous cataract surgeries, so the problem is not related to having the wrong eyeglass prescription. My ophthalmologist doesn't have an answer for this, but all age-related macular degeneration patients that I have talked to have this similar problem. [ 03/01/11 ]

Intermittent blurry vision is not caused by age related macular degeneration (ARMD). The most likely cause for intermittent blurriness is ocular surface disease. With age, the ability to lubricate the eye surface decreases causing intermittent blurred vision. You could try a trial of artificial tears up to 4 times daily. Remember that reading, watching TV, etc. decreases your natural blink reflex. If your symptoms are worse after doing these activities, then dry eye disease is certainly a possibility. Your eyes may be opening slightly at night, causing them to dry, and lead to a worsening of your symptoms. If artificial tears do not help, please see your ophthalmologist for further evaluation.


I am 51 years old and I have early-stage dry macular degeneration. Can I still get Lasik eye surgery if I have this eye condition? [ 02/28/11 ]

Dry age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is not an absolute contraindication to LASIK. However, your ARMD will likely progress over time and you may lose the clarity of vision given to you by LASIK. Also, if your vision is already damaged by ARMD, it cannot be improved by LASIK. Also, because you are 51 years old you will soon or may already notice the need for reading glasses. LASIK typically cannot correct both distance and near vision.


I had surgery for epiretinal membrane in August of 2010. I still have had no improvement in my wavy vision, and my nearsightedness has increased from 400 to 600. Also, objects that I look at look at appear bigger than before the surgery. The doctor said the power increase is a symptom of cataract, which is a very common development for people having epiretinal membrane surgery and advised me to have the lens replaced sometime in the future. Is this accurate? Why do the objects look larger? Did my surgery fail? I am looking forward to hearing back from you soon. Thank you. [ 02/27/11 ]

Vitrectomy and membrane peeling surgery for epiretinal membrane (ERM) can take up to 1 year post-surgery to provide full benefit to your eye. After 4 months, you should notice some benefit; however, it is still relatively early in the post-operative period. In short, it is likely too early to predict if your surgery failed or is successful.

Vitrectomy surgery can certainly increase the speed of cataract progression. When the lens becomes a cataract, it often becomes thicker and bends light more strongly. Bending light more strongly creates a magnifier-like effect and makes objects appear larger. This does not mean that your surgery failed.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is a public service of the BrightFocus Foundation and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional; it is not intended to constitute medical advice. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy. All medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. Also, although we make every effort to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the posted information reflects the most up-to-date research.

Some of the content in this section is adapted from other sources, which are clearly identified within each individual item of information.

Last Review: 04/29/13


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