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Ask an Expert about Macular Degeneration

Latest Questions and Answers
My sister experienced blurry vision in her left eye and was seen by an ophthalmologist. He said that she has idiopathic polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy (IPCV), a kind a macular degeneration seen in younger Asian women. Within 3 weeks, she was referred to a retinal surgeon who performed an MRI, but has not discussed a treatment plan with her. Can you please give me some references for facilities to contact concerning IPCV? Is there a treatment for this condition? Thank you very much for your immediate response. [ 01/19/11 ]

IPCV is a disease of the choroid, the network layer of blood vessels underneath the retina. It is more common in women and in races that have pigmented skin. This chronic disease is often diagnosed with ICG (indocyanine green) angiography. IPCV is a chronic disease, and has been treated with PDT (photodynamic therapy) and more recently by injecting the eye with bevacizumab. A nearby retinal specialist, or the nearest university-based retina specialist can evaluate your sister and discuss potential treatment options. Often patients with IPCV are observed until the retina specialist confirms that the treatment benefits outweigh the treatment risks.


After spending ½ hour each day in my son's school gym for 1 week, my eyes became extremely hypersensitive to light. I became unable to use my computer, and I continue to have major eye strain. I also came to realize that I need reading or computer glasses. The initial major reaction started with hypersensitivity following exposure to overhead halogen lights. The light sensitivity has improved and I have stopped using my glasses for now, but my entire face does not feel right, and I cannot use a computer for more than a few minutes. Do you think there is permanent damage to my eyes? Will these issues calm down? I do have history of dry eye, nearsightedness and sensitivity to fluorescent lights. [ 01/18/11 ]

Your symptoms could be caused by a variety of reasons. Since you described a  history of dry eyes, you can try a trial of artificial tears. Bright lights are  often more irritating for people who suffer from dry eyes. Also, people who are  farsighted often need reading glasses sooner than those who are nearsighted. If  you do not use the required reading glasses when you need them, it could lead  to an uncomfortable contraction of the muscles in the eye, and this can be  worsened by dry eyes. Fortunately, none of these conditions cause permanent  damage, and all can be addressed by an eye doctor.


I have advanced wet age-related macular degeneration in one eye and have been receiving Lucentis injections monthly for 2 years. Approximately 8 months ago, I started developing a reaction following the injections. The symptoms of the reaction last around 1 week and consist of extremely itchy, swollen eyes that also sting or burn. After several days, the swelling subsides but the eye remains red and raw; it looks like I've been in a fight that I didn't win. I don't think it is the result of the injection, but rather believe that it may be an allergic reaction to some of the antiseptic solutions or even the dilating drops. My doctor has not experienced this with any other patient and does not take it too seriously. However, it's so disabling that I'm considering stopping the Lucentis treatments. I'd like to know if any other people have had similar reactions. [ 01/17/11 ]

You are perceptive and likely correct in thinking that you may be suffering  from an allergic reaction to the antiseptic solution (most likely Betadine) or  some of the drops used before or after the injection. Itching, in particular,  is a very common sign of an ocular allergy. Ocular allergies are common to Betadine  as well as the preservatives used in eye drops. Speak with your eye doctor to  see if he or she can identify the causative agent. Fortunately, alternative antiseptics,  dilating drops and antibiotic drops are on the market that will allow you to  continue your Lucentis treatments.


I am 63 year-old-female and have dry macular degeneration. I have a blind spot, but still retain my peripheral vision. Should I continue to go to an eye doctor for new glasses, and will they help improve my peripheral vision? [ 01/16/11 ]

Dry macular degeneration typically only affects the central part of the visual  field and leaves peripheral vision intact. A new pair of glasses can  potentially improve peripheral vision; however, other eye problems, such as  cataract, may limit the improvement that you receive from the new glasses. It  would be worthwhile to discuss this issue with your eye doctor.


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.


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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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