In the video that follows, I discuss the available macular degeneration treatments, including wet macular degeneration injections. Watch now or read below to learn more.
Dry and Wet Macular Degeneration Treatments
Unfortunately, there’s no current dry macular degeneration treatment. However, a wet macular degeneration treatment does currently exist. This treatment has been available since 2006, and while it’s not a cure, it essentially controls the macular degeneration. The problem in wet macular degeneration is that you have abnormal blood vessels growing behind the macula that can leak fluid or bleed. This in turn can distort the macula, meaning that you can’t see clearly or you see distortion. The wet macular degeneration treatment involves trying to block the chemical that’s made within these blood vessels that makes them leak. This chemical is called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and the treatment that we use is given by injection into the eye.
This unfortunately causes horror in many patients, but the important thing about these macular degeneration injections is that they’re not painful. They often feel a little bit like sudden pressure in the eye and they’re over very quickly. We give people an anaesthetic to make the eye numb so that they don’t feel any pain, and we put special clips in to hold the eye open so patients don’t have to worry about keeping their eye open. Usually, they look in a different direction so they don’t see the injection being done.
How Many Macular Degeneration Injections Will I Need?
It’s important to be aware that macular degeneration injections are an ongoing treatment; they are not a cure. There have been many different ways of applying the treatment in the past, and currently, most people need an injection once a month on an ongoing basis, so there’s no obvious end in sight. Ffor other patients, it’s possible to extend the intervals between injections or even to give injections as they’re required. Which of these protocols are used depends on the patient in particular and also on the doctor and the current research.
Because the macular degeneration injections only suppress the problem, in many patients stopping them can cause the problem to come back and result in loss of vision, so it’s very important to continue with treatment. It’s a little bit like weeds in a garden. If you weed your garden regularly, then you know that if you go into your garden, there won’t be any weeds. If you don’t weed your gardens often, there’s more chance of weeds growing back, and if you leave it for a long time, they will grow back and take over the garden. This is the sort of thing that can happen in the eye, where the weeds are the abnormal blood vessels growing.
Can I Be Treated If I have Both Types of Macular Degeneration?
It’s not unusual for people unfortunately to have both wet and dry age related macular degeneration. In the past, when there was no wet macular degeneration treatment, we would often say to people that they either had wet or dry, and in that situation the wet macular degeneration took a hold very quickly and damaged peoples’ vision massively.
The fact is that there’s no dry macular degeneration treatment at present, and dry macular degeneration consists of little patches of macula that slowly wither away and sometimes grow and grow, coming towards the centre of vision. Nowadays, it’s not unusual to have the wet macular degeneration under control and discover that a patient actually has both wet and dry macular degeneration. While we can suppress and control the wet macular degeneration, sometimes the dry continues to progress and that can begin to affect people’s vision.
I think it’s a little like being attacked by a tiger and a Jack Russell at the same time. Before the wet macular degeneration injections were available, it was that if you were attacked by both at the same time, the tiger would maul you and you would have no idea whatsoever about the Jack Russell being there. Today, we have a tranquiliser dart to keep the tiger asleep in the corner of the room. But now that’s happening, we’re more aware of the Jack Russell gnawing away and slowly causing more damage. Unfortunately at the moment, there’s no tranquiliser dart for the Jack Russell (dry macular degeneration).