Age related Macular Degeneration and Smoking.

We all have a fear of loosing vision as we get older. Some of us will get the dry version of Age Related Macular Degeneration and others will develop the wet kind. The injectable drugs are for the wet kind only so far. These injections are not a cure (one shot and done) rather than an ongoing treatment most likely for the rest of the patient’s life. The good news is that patients that got about 7 shots a year did better than those that only got 6 or less. There are many other factors other than age that can make a difference in the effectiveness of the treatment. Things like blood pressure, smoking, soda drinking and things that make hardening of the arteries worse make a bad impact on the results. The good news is that the injections can stop the progression for decades. This also means that early detection and early treatment that is uninterrupted is how you win at this game.

Early detection of this problem starts with yearly routine eye exams with your local eye doctor. After establishing the diagnosis of macular degeneration, your eye doctor may recommend eye vitamins such as the PreserVision AREDS2 vitamins that are specifically designed for this condition, both dry and wet forms benefit from this. They usually are two tablets a day. They can be found in all pharmacies and grocery stores. Weekly monitoring of an Amsler grid to detect changes is important. If there are new symptoms such as spots in your vision or distortion, that’s a reason for concern and getting an eye appointment quickly. The faster the symptoms are coming on the faster you need to be seen. Usually there is no pain with this problem. You can check an Amsler grid for distortion. New changes need to be examined and possibly referred to a Retinal Specialist for evaluation, possibility in less than a week for new symptoms.

For the smokers: you must make up your mind and quit smoking immediately as this will make the biggest difference in the treatment outcome. The patients that kept smoking while getting treatments (injections) needed twice as much treatments and did poorly compared to the patients that quit smoking. The reasons are related to the fact that smoking affects hardening of the arteries all over the body including the eye. Macular degeneration is thought as a severe hardening of the arteries that support the retina and then what the body does to fix it makes it worse. 

Amsler Grid to be monitored weekly. Cover one eye and stare at the center. Notice any distortions or dark spots without moving your eye from the center of the “X”. Then change eyes by covering the other eye and look at the grid again. Call 252-758-2402 if there is new or progressive distortion or abnormalities.
Wet type of Macular Degeneration with subretinal bleed.
Dry type of Macular Degeneration

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