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Latest Questions and Answers
My son is 11 years old and has been experiencing intermittent vision loss. He had an ultrasound of the eye and it showed that he had drusen in both eyes. The right eye had really large "stones," and the left eye had a larger number of smaller “stones.” I don’t really understand this at all. Are these signs of macular degeneration, and will it lead to his complete vision loss? If so, how long does it normally take to lose all vision? I know you can’t give me specifics, but just having a vague understanding would assist me in getting my head around this diagnosis. [ 07/04/11 ]

Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) does not typically occur in patients younger than 55. You are correct in thinking that drusen are a finding in ARMD, however drusen can also appear in other diseases. Your son may have “optic nerve head drusen,” which can cause visual loss in rare cases by compressing the optic nerve or by influencing the growth of new blood vessels in the macular region. The good news is that vision loss from optic nerve head drusen in not common. Your son may also have a different kind of macular degeneration causing drusen, but these diseases are very rare. Please discuss this with your eye doctor; he or she can determine the exact type and location of drusen in your son's eyes, as well as the prognosis for these drusen.

Is it true that a mild electric current into the eye will clear up macular degeneration? [ 07/03/11 ]

A handful of physicians presented this idea several years ago; however, no definite proof currently exists to support electric current as a valid treatment for age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).

I was diagnosed with macular degeneration six months ago, which has recently changed to the wet form. I had a Botox shot in my forehead recently, and was curious if this could have caused the changes in my macula? Also, can viewing a computer monitor all day cause harm to the eyes if someone has macular degeneration? [ 07/01/11 ]

No relationship has been established between Botox injections and age-related macular degeneration. Computer viewing can cause worsening of eye dryness, and this can lead to a reduction in vision independent to vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration. You can try artificial tears to counteract this dryness. Computer viewing has not been linked to the development or progression of age-related macular degeneration.

My grandmother turned 101 years old in September of 2010, and her only ailment is her macular degeneration. This eye disease causes her much distress due to the visual impairment. Lately, her symptoms have become worse and I feel that her doctors are just telling her to cope with the problem due to her advanced age. Are there are any macular degeneration treatments that would be safe for a woman of her age? [ 06/29/11 ]

The treatment options for your grandmother depend on the exact type of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) that she has. ARMD is divided into two subtypes, wet and dry. Currently there are multiple FDA approved treatments for the wet subtype, but none for the dry subtype. Certain patients can slow the progression of dry ARMD by taking a special vitamin formulation. If your grandmother is not being offered any treatments, it is possible she does not have a currently treatable form of the disease. Your grandmother, however, may still benefit from referral to a low vision specialist. Such a specialist can help optimize your grandmother's vision using training and assistive devices for activities that she likes to engage in, such as reading, using a computer, etc. Your retina specialist can help you with the referral.

Can a botched cataract operation cause macular degeneration? [ 06/05/11 ]

There is no evidence that strongly supports a relationship between cataract surgery and increased rates of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). A complicated cataract surgery can cause visual decline for a variety of reasons; however, an increased rate of ARMD is not thought to be one of them.

I have been told that there is a new free treatment for macular degeneration in Miami, Florida. Could you tell me about this treatment? My mother has this eye disease, and she was treated unsuccessfully with Avastin. [ 06/04/11 ]

Many scientists are currently studying age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), and several hundred clinical trials are actively ongoing. Without knowing the specific treatment you are referring to you, I cannot provide more details. It is entirely likely that several trials for ARMD treatments are ongoing in Miami currently, as a prominent center for ARMD research is located there. Please discuss with your retina specialist the potential benefits of referring your mother to experimental therapy in a clinical trial.

Please also talk with your eye specialist concerning the purpose of the Avastin treatment. Avastin injections prevent vision loss in around 90% of patients, but only 30% show an improvement in their vision. Currently Avastin and Lucentis (a related therapy) are first line treatments for patients with wet ARMD.

I am 61 years old, and recently received a diagnosis of early dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). I have taken niacin for two years to help lower my cholesterol level, and recently read some web research indicating that niacin may contribute to cystoid macular edema, and may also increase the risk of developing AMD. I currently take 1000 milligrams of niacin each day. Do you think that niacin can contribute to the development or progression of wet AMD? [ 06/02/11 ]

Much of your research is exactly correct. High dose niacin has been linked with cystoid macular edema. Though no safe dosing level has been established, this side effect typically occurs in people taking 3,500 milligrams or more of niacin daily. Some researchers have found that nitrates can an increase in blood flow to the retina, and proposed that this could function as a potential therapy for age-related macular degeneration (ARMD); however, this has not yet been proven. I am not aware of any study that definitively shows an association between niacin supplementation and increased risk of ARMD progression. It would be helpful to also talk with your eye doctor concerning your question.

My mother, who is 61 years old, lives in Turkey, and suffers from wet macular degeneration. One of her eyes has approximately 90% loss of visual function. She has been undergoing injection therapy for around 2 years, which has been ineffective in halting the disease process. I was wondering if you have any recommendations as to prominent physicians who specialize in treating macular degeneration. [ 05/11/11 ]

A good starting place for your search of a specialist in Turkey, with expertise in treating wet macular degeneration, is the Find an M.D. website, created by the American Academy of Ophthalmologists.

It allows one to search for ophthalmologists located not only in the United States, but in other countries, including Turkey. You can then contact the physicians located close to where your mother lives. Ask for a free consultation to discuss your mother's case and their particular experience and track record in treating similar cases. This may help you to identify someone that best fits your mother's needs.

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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: 04/26/13

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