What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration is a natural aging process, which may affect the eyes and our vision as we get older. The macula is the most central portion of the retina which is responsible for our central vision (our detail vision; used for reading, driving, etc.)
There are two types of macular degeneration – “wet” and “dry”. The “wet form” of macular degeneration develops in about 10-15% of patients who initially started out with the “dry form” of macular degeneration.
As a result of aging changes in your eye, your retina may have stopped getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function properly. In an attempt to increase the amount of oxygen, the retina has started to produce a substance called “Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor” (VEGF).
This substance is causing the formation of abnormal blood vessels underneath the retina. Unfortunately, these abnormal blood vessels create more problems than they solve and if left untreated, they will cause the loss of your central vision. You will not develop total loss of vision, but these abnormal blood vessels will cause you to lose your “straight ahead” or central vision.
What is the treatment for Macular Degeneration?
Lucentis and Eylea are two drug treatments used to control the abnormal blood vessels. These medications help prevent the VEGF substance from working and stop the formation of abnormal blood vessels. They will also help decrease the leakage of fluid from existing blood vessels. The overall result is a decrease and stabilization in the formation of leaky blood vessels and stabilization of your vision loss.
How are treatments administered for Macular Degeneration?
The medication is injected into the affected eye and the drug spreads throughout the inside of the eye, stopping the VEGF from working. The injection usually takes as little as 304 minutes to perform. Dr. Croley will numb the eye, which may cause a slight burning sensation for about 2-3 seconds. Most patients tolerate the injection without any significant discomfort.
For best results, the treatments will need to be performed about every 4-8 weeks and will need to be continued to stabilize your vision. The “wet” form of macular degeneration is a chronic disease and will require continued treatment just like high blood pressure or diabetes.
Future treatments will consist of checking your vision and then injecting the medication after dilation of your eyes. This appointment should only take about 30 minutes. At Dr. Croley’s discretion we will perform a complete eye examination. It will usually take several treatments before the medication’s maximum benefit is achieved. Each patient will have their own treatment plan.
Are these Macular Degeneration medications safe?
There is a slight risk of infection due to the need to perform an injection into the eye. The treatment may cause problems such as increased eye pressure (usually temporary), accelerated cataract formation or inflammation within the eye. There may be other risks that will be discussed with you prior to the start of treatment.
The risk of infection is very low, usually about 1 injection for about every 2000 injections. If you experience the onset of pain, severe irritation, sudden decrease in vision following the injection you need to contact our office immediately.