Wet Macular Degeneration Medications

Wet Macular Degeneration Medications

Posted on May.07, 2012, by , under Low Vision Tips

Wet macular degeneration treatment is very different from dry macular degeneration treatment.  Even though both eye conditions cause central vision loss, how and why that vision loss occurs is because of very different processes going on in the body.  Dry macular degeneration is a slow, gradual degrading or dying of the photoreceptor cells located in the macula, the center of the retina that is responsible for our straight ahead vision.

Wet Macular Degeneration
Wet macular degeneration causes a more sudden and severe vision loss. This is the result of abnormal and fragile tiny blood vessels developing under the macula which then start leaking blood and fluid. This fluid build up causes the macula to raise up which then distorts one’s vision. That’s why straight lines – like a telephone pole look bent or wavy. The blood and fluid also damages existing photoreceptor cells – rods and cones. When there are less photoreceptor cells there is diminished vision – vision is somewhat blurred and not sharp, more light is needed, and colors are not as vibrant.

Anti-VEGF Medications
Angiogenesis is a term that you may hear from your doctor. It simply means the growth of new blood vessels.  A protein called VEGF – Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor is responsible for the body creating these harmful and abnormal blood vessels under the retina.  So the goal of wet macular degeneration treatment is to  prevent or inhibit this growth or angiogenesis.  Researchers have developed medications that help block the VEGF protein – hence the name anti-VEGF treatment.  The four names of the anti-VEGF drugs that are used to treat wet macular degeneration as eye injections are  Lucentis, Avastin, Macugen and Eyelea.

Macular Degeneration Eye Injections
These medications are given as intraocular injections or injections that are given right into your eye.  There may be some improvement in vision when the blood vessels shrink or when the fluid under the macula is absorbed. Unfortunately,  the treatment is not a one time visit to the doctor. The frequency of the injections depends on many factors such as which anti-VEGF medication the doctor uses, the amount of abnormal bleeding one has and how well one responds to it.  A person may have to see the doctor as frequently as every month.

Questions to Ask Your Retina Doctor
Ask your retina specialist these questions if you have wet macular degeneration:

1.  What medication are you giving me?
2.  What is the goal of the treatment? What kind of improvement in my vision should I expect?
3.  What are the possible short term or long term side effects?
4.  How often do I need to come in for injections?
5.  What visual changes or eye symptoms require immediate attention?

Finding a retina specialist that you feel comfortable with and that addresses your concerns and questions is an important part of your treatment decision. Learn more about wet macular degeneration treatment here:

Wet Macular Degeneration Treatment

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN