Macular Degeneration Treatments and Research
Scientists are tirelessly researching treatment possibilities for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). There are several promising approaches. To understand them better, one needs to distinguish first between two types of Macular Degeneration: dry and wet. Each type calls for a different treatment methodology.
Currently, the available treatment options have limitations, and unfortunately do not provide any cure. What they may accomplish is a slowing-down of the disease’s progression.
Dry Macular Degeneration Treatment
The majority of patients have Dry Macular Degeneration, which is caused by deposits of yellow matter, called drusen, that form underneath the macula. As a result, the macula dries out and becomes thin. Currently, there is no approved treatment available, and patients are advised to follow specific nutritional protocols, including supplements. Low vision glasses and devices, such as hand, stand and electronic magnifiers are recommended to assist with the vision loss.
Wearing sunglasses to protect the eyes from potentially dangerous light can help prevent AMD and possibly slow down its progression. Smoking is known as a significant risk factor.
Recommended Nutrition for Dry AMD
In general, nutrition therapy is the mainstay of treatment for Dry Macular Degeneration. To strengthen the cells of your macula, it’s essential to eat healthy foods, rich in antioxidants. Green leafy vegetables, particularly spinach and kyle, and carotenoid-containing foods, are recommended if you experience signs of AMD or have a family history of AMD. Furthermore, you should ensure that you eat plenty of fish and foodstuffs rich in omega-3.
Why should a person consider taking macular degeneration vitamins? Isn't a good diet enough?
It is nearly impossible to get all of the nutrients needed for the prevention and treatment of AMD in a standard American diet. For example, the average American consumes only between 1 and 2 mg of lutein per day — considerably less than the 10-15 mg daily recommended dose for patients with AMD. In order to get 10 mg. of lutein per day, one would have to eat 3 cups of spinach everyday!
While we recommend that patients follow a diet low in carbohydrates, and abundant in fresh, leafy green vegetables, along with lean protein, such as fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), a good diet on its own is not enough to fight AMD.
What should a person look for when selecting macular degeneration vitamins?
Vitamins and Supplements
Look for eye vitamins that has incorporated the latest science and research. AREDS and AREDS2 are an outdated formulation. TOZAL contains 7 nutrients not found in the AREDS2 formulation. While a dietary supplement, TOZAL is manufactured to pharmaceutical standards in an FDA approved facility.
We now know that vitamin D, B-Complex vitamins, and amino acids are all critical in not only stopping AMD but in preventing the conversion from dry to wet macular degeneration. There’s also mounting evidence that Omega-3 fatty acids in the triglyceride-lowering (TG) form may enhance the efficacy of anti-VEGF injections. TOZAL contains all of these nutrients.
In the original AREDS study we found that 27% of patients who took the formulation had a "slowing" in vision loss — yet no one stabilized and no one improved. Similar results were found in the AREDS2 study using a different combination of nutrients. In the TOZAL study, we found that 56% of patients who took TOZAL for a period of six months experienced a statistically significant improvement in vision, and another 21% stabilized — resulting in 76% of patients either stabilizing or improving.
Wet Macular Degeneration Treatment
Wet Macular Degeneration is caused by abnormal blood vessels that form underneath the macula, and then leak blood, causing the macular to lift. Current standard of care treatment is intravitreal injections. These have many limitations and need to be frequently repeated.
Anti-VEGF Injection Therapy
The current standard of care injection treatments are with anti-VEGF drugs. VEGF is a molecule that encourages the growth of blood vessels. In AMD patients, new abnormal blood vessels form underneath the macular and leak blood and fluids. To inhibit the growth of these weak blood vessels, doctors inject an anti-VEGF drug into the eye. Injections need to be repeated in specific intervals
Researchers see a high success rate in the use of anti-VEGF injections, including a slower progression of the disease, and in some cases, minor benefits to existing vision. Like all medical treatments, anti-VEGF therapy comes with possible risks and side effects. Every individual must discuss the suitability of this treatment with their eye doctor.
Research on Macular Degeneration Treatment
- When it comes to Dry Macular Degeneration, research efforts focus on antioxidant vitamins, such as Lipoic Acid. Further research is being done with intravitreal injections of different substances. At this time the results are still unclear.
- For Wet Macular Degeneration, much research concentrates on the use of anti-VEGF drugs. A device known as PDS (Port Delivery System) could reduce the frequency of visits to a doctor to receive treatment. The device is an implant into the wall of the eye that slowly releases an anti-VEGF.
- Research involving a type of eye-drops used to treat glaucoma shows a decrease in fluid buildup in the retina when used in conjunction with an anti-VEGF injection.
- Another direction researchers are making progress in is gene therapy. Many believe it will soon be possible to replace faulty genes that cause degeneration of the macula. This is particularly interesting for patients with genetic Macular Degeneration diseases, such as Stargard’s and Best.
- The injection of stem cells into the eye that will induce the creation of new cells on the macular instead of the ones that degenerated is an additional possibility scientists are investigating.
Many additional studies are underway, including cell transplantation, immune system strategies, and blood fat control. A variety of implants to protect or restore vision are also being researched. While some are promising, at the moment there is no cure for Macular Degeneration.
What You Need To Do
Keep yourself informed about the latest developments. Make sure to regularly see your eye care professionals and closely monitor the condition. Macular Degeneration patients should consult a medical eye doctor for possible treatments and an IALVS doctor to help them with practical tasks of everyday life. We want you to keep your independence and remain active with Macular Degeneration.