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Ask an Expert about Macular Degeneration

Latest Questions and Answers
I have a 79-year-old mother with wet macular degeneration, and she has lost all but her peripheral vision. We live in central Alabama and I would like to know the closest possible clinics or physicians that could discuss transplant treatments. [ 01/15/11 ]

Advanced wet macular degeneration is not currently being treated with any  type of transplantation therapy. A complicated multi-step surgery called  macular translocation has been tried successfully for a very small subset of  patients with wet macular degeneration. The nearest person performing this  procedure is Dr. Cynthia Toth at Duke Eye Center in Durham, North Carolina.  Before traveling this distance, you may benefit from an evaluation by retinal  specialists at a closer academic center, such as the University of Alabama-Birmingham,  to determine what types of interventions would be most appropriate for your  mother.


I lost the vision in my left eye 36 years ago during the birth of my daughter. I have wet macular degeneration in my right eye have been treated with Avastin every 3 months. The treatments made a major difference early on; however, my vision is slightly distorted now and I have grey floaters. The doctors want to remove a cataract while the eye is stabilized. Can you please provide some advice? [ 01/14/11 ]

The distortion you describe can certainly be caused by macular degeneration, and would not be expected to improve with cataract surgery. However, cataract surgery may accelerate the breakdown of eye gel (the vitreous), which may be causing the grey floaters. This might cause either improvement or worsening of the perception of floaters. Finally, cataract surgery has not definitely been associated with worsening of wet macular degeneration.


I have been diagnosed with early dry macular degeneration. Should I get a second opinion? Why is there no treatment at this point? I'm taking vitamin therapy but the doctors say that it doesn't help those in the early stages of the disease. How long will it take before my eyesight is affected by this eye condition? [ 01/07/11 ]

Your diagnosis of early dry macular degeneration is likely based upon the hallmark indicators of the disease, such as drusen and/or changes in macular pigment.  It is always fine to obtain a second opinion.

Not all persons with early age-related macular degeneration progress to the advanced stages of the disease, or experience any significant loss of vision.  The disease is so variable and so many factors are involved that is impossible to put a timeline on the disease for any particular patient.  Therefore, the best recommendation after receiving this diagnosis is to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a well-balanced diet, not smoking, exercising regularly, and maintaining tight control of any other health conditions such as high blood pressure and obesity.   It is also important to see your eye doctor regularly and report any changes, no matter how subtle, so that he or she can keep track of your progress and address any issues promptly when or if they arise.

There are numerous studies aimed focusing on the dry form of macular degeneration, and hopefully some of these will soon be available for clinical use.  If you visit the clinical studies section of the NEI website, you can find a link to a list of federally and privately funded clinical trials being conducted worldwide. Additionally, if you use the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (also found at the site listed above), enter “macular degeneration” or more specifically “dry macular degeneration” in the term search box, then submit the query, you can find out about additional research studies that have been funded. This is a good way to find out exactly what work has been funded and which studies are currently in or have recently completed clinical trials. This will provide you with some idea concerning when these treatments may be available to the public.

Please also view the research that our organization is currently funding as well the potential treatments section of our website.


I am reading Fantastic Voyage, by R. Kurzell and T. Goodman, and they briefly mention age-related macular degeneration (AMD). They relate it to not having the ApoE4 allele. They also mention an article by H. K. Hamdi and C. Keney in Frontiers in Bioscience, entitled "Age Related Macular Degeneration: A New Viewpoint.” Do you have copies of this article and is it worthwhile following this topic? [ 01/06/11 ]

A free copy of the article you are referring to is available online. While there is definitely a strong genetic component to the development of age-related macular degeneration, it is highly likely that its development is due to a combination of multiple factors, including a number of gene mutations or variations, and environmental factors such as sunlight exposure, diet and smoking.


How do you become a candidate for the telescopic implant, which is now approved for macular degeneration? [ 01/05/11 ]

Thank you for your question. There is a booklet developed by Centrsight.com™ that provides detailed information about this procedure. Please read the whole booklet and discuss any questions that you have with your eye doctor at your next appointment. He or she can determine if you are a good candidate for this treatment.


If I were to take an eye vitamin, a mineral supplement and a multivitamin, I determined that I would be taking 31.5 milligrams of zinc and 2 milligrams of copper. Also, the multivitamin has 275 micrograms of lutein and the eye vitamin has 5 milligrams of this molecule. Are these excessive or unsafe amounts? [ 01/04/11 ]

Zinc in the form of 80 milligrams of zinc oxide was given to the 3,500 patients in the AREDS study, along with 2 milligrams of copper. High levels of these nutrients generally caused minimal side effects. However, it is important to note that patients receiving zinc had a higher risk of hospitalizations for genitourinary disorders. If the form of zinc you are taking is zinc sulfate or zinc gluconate, you are at higher risk for zinc toxicity. Lutein has not been extensively studied for toxicity, but it is generally thought to be very protective. Lutein is typically found in green leafy vegetables. In animal studies, doses of up to 400 milligrams of lutein per kilogram of body weight were demonstrated to be safe. It is always recommended that you talk with your doctor before taking any supplements.


I was hit with a steel bar in my left eye and was diagnosed with a choroidal scar on the macula. Please advise if there is any possibility of having clear vision again. [ 01/03/11 ]

A macular scar can be very damaging to vision. If the scar extends through the fovea, or center of vision, the chance of regaining good vision is low. However, if your injury was recent and the scar does not travel through the macula, the chance of visual improvement may be high. Any injury to the choroid* can later lead to growth of membranes called choroidal neovascular membranes (CNV), which can lead to a subsequent decrease in vision as well.

* The choroid layer of the eye has blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to the retina and take away waste.


My ophthalmologist has suggested the use of Restasis to treat my dry macular degeneration. What can you tell me about this medication? She has also suggested surgery to correct "pockets" on my retina. Can you give me information about this type of surgery? [ 01/02/11 ]

Restasis is not a treatment for dry macular degeneration; it is instead a treatment for dry eyes. It is an anti-inflammatory drug that may improve tear production. Surgical correction of "pockets" on the retina is not a commonly used description. Without knowing the exact reason for the surgery and type of surgery proposed, I cannot provide more detailed information.


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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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