How Age-Related Macular Degeneration Is Treated

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Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD, gradually wipes out central vision. Central vision is essential for reading, driving, and other activities that require you to see objects clearly.

AMD is characterized by deterioration in the macula, and it is a leading cause of vision loss in adults over the age of 65. The macula is the center of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue in the eye responsible for converting images into nerve signals and sending them to your brain.

There are several treatments and preventative strategies and treatments for this condition. In general, medically directed treatment approaches can prevent worsening vision by preventing damage to the retina, but they do not usually repair damaged the macula or recover vision that is already lost. 


Several lifestyle factors may reduce your risk of developing AMD:

  • Follow a diet rich in antioxidants
  • Get regular eye exams
  • Wear sunglasses when outdoors during daylight hours
  • Avoid smoking
  • Keep your blood pressure at optimal levels
  • Keep your cholesterol level at optimal levels
  • Exercise regularly

Over the Counter Therapies

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, vitamin supplementation may slow the progression of early, mild AMD, which is usually the dry form of AMD.  If you have AMD, you should take the advice of your ophthalmologist regarding treatment. 

Vitamins for Prevention

In the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (a major National Eye Institute-sponsored clinical trial that followed about 3,600 people with varying stages of AMD), researchers found that taking high levels of antioxidants and zinc daily can reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD by about 25 percent.

The study's vitamin formulation consists of:

  • 500 mg of vitamin C
  • 400 IU of vitamin E
  • 15 mg of beta-carotene
  • 80 mg of zinc (as zinc oxide)
  • 2 mg of copper (as cupric oxide)

Surgical Interventions

There are several procedures that can prevent AMD from advancing. These procedures can prevent and slow down the progression of macular degeneration.


Anti-VEGF Medications:

These medications prevent the proliferation of fragile blood vessels in the eye, and they may be beneficial if you have macular degeneration because leaking from these fragile blood vessels causes damage to the macula. There are several available medications that have this effect, and you would get this treatment through an injection into the eye, which is administered by an ophthalmologist, a doctor specialized in eye surgery. 

Laser Surgery:

Laser surgery procedures involve using targeted lasers to prevent proliferation of fragile blood vessels in the eye. 

Photodynamic Therapy:

This treatment involves intravenous injection of medication that causes the small blood vessels in the eye to constrict so that they are less likely to leak. This medication is activated by light, which is targeted towards the fragile blood vessels with a laser. 

Retinal Implant:

Retinal implants have been used for several conditions. When used for AMD, the device has been implanted behind the iris of one eye. The implant works by magnifying central vision and sending the images to the healthy part of the retina.

Complementary Medicine and Alternative Therapy

While there is evidence to suggest that some vitamins may prevent progression of AMD, there is limited evidence supporting the use of alternative therapies, such as herbs.


Lutein and Zeaxanthin

A growing number of studies show that these two antioxidants may play a role in reducing the development and progression of AMD. Available in supplement form, lutein and zeaxanthin are found naturally in dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and other foods.

Ginkgo Biloba

Several small studies suggest that ginkgo biloba (an herb said to stimulate circulation) may help preserve vision in people with AMD.


In a 2005 study on rats, researchers found that long-term supplementation with bilberry extract helped prevent AMD (as well as cataracts).



Carpentier S, Knaus M, Suh M. "Associations between lutein, zeaxanthin, and age-related macular degeneration: an overview." Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2009 49(4):313-26.

Coleman H, Chew E. "Nutritional supplementation in age-related macular degeneration." Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2007 18(3):220-3.

Evans JR. "Ginkgo biloba extract for age-related macular degeneration." Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000;(2):CD001775.

Fies P, Dienel A. "Ginkgo extract in impaired vision--treatment with special extract EGb 761 of impaired vision due to dry senile macular degeneration." Wien Med Wochenschr. 2002;152(15-16):423-6.

Fursova AZh, Gesarevich OG, Gonchar AM, Trofimova NA, Kolosova NG. "Dietary supplementation with bilberry extract prevents macular degeneration and cataracts in senesce-accelerated OXYS rats." Adv Gerontol. 2005;16:76-9.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.