Macular Degeneration (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Supplements and Anti-VEGF
Vitamins, antioxidants, and zinc: Nutritional supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene with zinc decrease the likelihood of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration in some people. The AREDS researchers recommended that patients at risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration and those without contraindications, such as smoking, should consider taking antioxidant and zinc supplements. The AREDS formulation is specific and different from a regular daily multivitamin. Occuvite PreserVision (Bausch & Lomb), ICaps (Alcon), and Macular Protect Complete (Science Based Health) are products that contain the AREDS formulation. Lower amounts of vitamin A should be used in patients who also smoke. Your eye doctor should be consulted for the best recommendation for you.
Anti-VEGF therapy: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) causes new blood vessels to develop and increases leakage and inflammation of blood vessels. Most of these drugs are insoluble and therefore cannot be given as eyedrops. Thus, the ideal form of administration is directly into the eye with a very fine needle. This can be safely accomplished through the pars plana, which is an accessible part of the eye without blood vessels about 3 millimeters behind the cornea. Thousands of these intravitreal injections are given every day in the United States with an outstanding efficacy and safety record. Nevertheless, these injection procedures are a form of surgical intervention and should be performed only by an ophthalmologist familiar with the technique, indications, contraindications, possible complications, and alternative therapies. Strict sterile protocols are necessary as with any surgical procedure.
John D. Sheppard, MD, MMSc
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