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Ask an Expert about Macular Degeneration

Latest Questions and Answers
Can rickets result in developing macular degeneration later in life? [ 02/09/11 ]

Vitamin D deficiency is related to the development of rickets, and  researchers are currently exploring how this vitamin might influence one's risk  of developing macular degeneration. I did not find any scientific reports demonstrating a direct link between rickets and the development of macular  degeneration, however.

There was a recent announcement that the FDA approved clinical trials to use stem cells for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. Does this mean we are closer to a cure? Will the cure happen within 5 years? [ 02/08/11 ]

Preliminary studies using stem cells to treat/improve vision in  persons with retinal diseases, such as macular degeneration, have proven to be  very promising, hence the increase in support for continuation or advancement  of similar studies.  However, it is not  possible to place a timeline on when or if a cure will actually come from this  line of research.

Your publication, “Living with Macular Degeneration,” mentions that maintaining blood pressure at normal levels is important for good eye health. Why is this so important? What relationship is there between macular degeneration and hypertension? I am a 45-year-old Bolivian woman and 3 months ago I was diagnosed with macular degeneration. Any information you can give me will be greatly appreciated. [ 02/07/11 ]

Maintaining blood pressure at an appropriate range definitely reduces the risk of a variety  of health problems, and will help you avoid heart, brain, and kidney diseases. In addition, some research studies have reported an association between high blood pressure and worsening of age-related macular degeneration, which could then lead to permanent loss of vision.

I am 17 years old and I have had macular degeneration since I was born. Over the years, my vision has gotten worse. The doctors have told me that I will be blind by the time I am in my 20s or 30s. Is there anything that I can do to slow down or stop the vision loss? I have heard that there is no known surgery for my type of macular degeneration. Is this true? [ 02/06/11 ]

The most common type of macular degeneration is called age-related macular degeneration, and is infrequent  before the age of 55. You have a more rare form of the disease, and the  potential therapy for your retinal degeneration will depend on the exact cause.  If you have not already done so, please contact a retina specialist for an  evaluation. He/she can also refer you to a low vision specialist, who can help  you obtain devices and training to maximize your independence and quality of  life.

My mother has macular degeneration, and since March she has been injected seven times in the eye. The doctor said he will perform more injections this month and then he will let her rest. She is desperate because it seems like there have been too many injections and she is afraid of them. My mother has already lost the vision in one eye and the doctors are trying to save the other eye. Thanks for your help. [ 02/05/11 ]

The best treatments currently  available for wet age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) are the Avastin and  Lucentis eye injections. In large clinical trials, Lucentis stopped 90% of  patients with wet ARMD from losing vision and 30% of patients actually gained  vision. In these same trials, patients received injections every 4 weeks for 2  years with a very low rate of side effects. Thousands of patients have been  safely treated with these eye injections. Please have your mother discuss her  treatment concerns with a retina specialist, so that she can clearly understand  the benefits and risks of the therapy.

I have lattice degeneration, which is monitored by my ophthalmologist and retinologist. Would taking an AREDS vitamin formulation help prevent the lattice degeneration from getting worse? [ 02/04/11 ]

Lattice degeneration is a  peripheral retinal degeneration that rarely leads to retinal detachment. Since  retinal detachment is a potentially blinding disease, it is important to obtain  periodic follow-up examinations by a retina specialist who is familiar with the  symptoms of retinal detachment. Vitamins with the AREDS formulation would not  be beneficial for lattice degeneration.

Can you please provide some information concerning aspirin and macular degeneration by addressing the following questions: Given aspirin's connection to bleeding, is it advisable for patients with wet macular degeneration to take this drug? Would aspirin cause retinal bleeding in someone who has dry macular degeneration? Could daily aspirin use cause the dry form of the disease to turn into the wet form? Is there a way to prevent blood clots and thin the blood in patients that have cardiovascular disease without causing retinal bleeding? [ 02/03/11 ]

It is still not definitely known if aspirin increases the rate of bleeding within the eye in patients with wet age-related macular degeneration. Some studies report no increase in bleeding rates, while others report slightly increased bleeding rates. It is important to note that this research applies only for the wet subtype of macular degeneration. Since the risks of aspirin have not been conclusively established in age-related macular degeneration, it would not be appropriate to stop aspirin for this reason without talking with your doctor first.

It is still not definitely known if aspirin increases the rate of conversion of dry age-related macular degeneration to the wet form. One small study has suggested that those taking aspirin actually convert to the wet form at a lower rate than those not taking aspirin; however, this was a borderline finding.

All blood thinners can increase the chance of retinal bleeding, but this varies widely based on the type of blood thinner. Aspirin may increase the chance of bleeding slightly, while more powerful blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) and clopidogrel (Plavix) increase the risk of retinal bleeding more prominently.

Your physician, who is very familiar with your current medication regimen and medical history, can give you more specific advice regarding aspirin use. Please note that all medicines have risks and benefits, and they should never be stopped or started without consulting your doctor first.

Can any form of macular degeneration be treated with laser treatment? [ 02/02/11 ]

There are currently no laser treatments for  dry macular degeneration. Thermal laser treatment is not currently recommended  for wet age-related macular degeneration because it is less effective than the  Avastin and/or Lucentis eye injections. However, another type of laser  treatment known as photodynamic therapy (PDT) is still used in some cases of  wet age-related macular degeneration. PDT is not typically used as a first line  therapy, but often in conjunction with other treatments.

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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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