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Ask an Expert about Macular Degeneration

Latest Questions and Answers
Do you know if dogs can get this eye disease? [ 03/21/11 ]

Dogs do not have a macula per se, but they do have a region called the 'area centralis,' which shares many of the features of the human macula. Dogs do not get age-related macular degeneration; however, they can get eye diseases that would be considered forms of macular degeneration that effect younger people, such as Best disease (which has symptoms like dry age-related macular degeneration).


I have been getting shots in my eye for macular degeneration, and the pain is getting unbearable. I have tried strong medication with little effect, and I do not feel that my doctor understands what I am experiencing. I may stop treatment, and would appreciate your opinion concerning this choice. [ 03/20/11 ]

Eye pain can be a very unpleasant part of eye injections. Several medications exist to reduce the pain including anesthetic drops, anesthetic gels, anesthetic injections, or a combination of these options. If you are suffering from unbearable pain it is important to have a discussion with your retina specialist regarding this issue, so that a pain management plan can be developed. It is not a good option to stop treatment because that can lead to a permanent worsening of central vision.


During my latest eye exam, my doctor said that there are changes to the pigment in my eyes and this means that I might develop macular degeneration in the future. Can you explain this to me? I have no symptoms other than this pigment change [ 03/19/11 ]

Early signs of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) include pigment changes in the central part of the retina known as the macula. However, a certain quantity of pigment change, or other factors (or other signs) is required to make a formal diagnosis of ARMD. The exact cause of ARMD is not known, but pigment changes may be a sign of irritation or injury to the part of the eye underneath the retina, called the retinal pigment epithelium. Not all people with pigment changes go on to develop ARMD, however. It is important that you continue your yearly eye exams so any potential eye disease can be caught early.


Is it possible for an individual who has been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration to have days on which vision temporarily improves? [ 03/18/11 ]

Visual clarity varies based on a variety of factors. While dry age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is typically expected to cause very gradual worsening of central vision in the eye, other factors can cause vision to temporarily improve. One example of such a factor is hydration of the cornea. A better hydrated cornea can result in temporary visual improvement, and this effect can be mimicked by the use of artificial tears. Also, if a person has diabetes, vision may appear better on days when blood sugar is properly controlled and in a healthy range.


My husband has macular degeneration in both eyes. Should he have eye injections only when bleeding starts, or should he have shots every 6 – 8 weeks to prevent the bleeding from starting in the first place? [ 03/17/11 ]

If your husband has the wet type of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) he can be treated with Lucentis or Avastin eye injection. The treatment schedule varies, and can be from 2 – 8 weeks, depending on a variety of factors. The most common schedule involves treatment once monthly for 3 months and then extended per the instructions of the retina specialist. No one treatment schedule is appropriate for all patients. Waiting for recurrent bleeding before retreatment would likely result in lower vision when compared to preventing bleeding with scheduled treatments.


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.


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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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