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Macular Degeneration FAQ

Q.  Do all patients get macular degeneration as they get older?

A.  No, age-related macular degeneration is not necessarily a component of the aging process. Most of us live long, healthy and productive lives with minimal, if any, loss of vision from this condition. Although age-related macular degeneration is more prevalent as we get older, it is not by any means a guarantee that we will get this condition.

Q.  Why do some people get dry and some people get wet forms?

A.  Unfortunately, we do not know what causes these conditions and there is a lot we do not understand. There is a great deal of research internationally underway to better understand the pathogenesis of the dry and wet forms of AMD.

Q.  How do I know if I have wet or dry macular degeneration?

A.  You won't know the difference as they both can affect your vision to the same degree. Sometimes patients with early wet macular degeneration will have a vision close to 20/20; advanced dry macular degeneration can leave you legally blind. So, there is no relationship between your vision and the type of macular degeneration you have.

Q.  How does my doctor know if I have wet or dry forms?

A.  Your eye doctor can tell by looking at the type of damage present or by having you undergo additional tests such as fluorescein angiography.

Q.  Will I go blind?

A.  No, patients do not go blind from wet or dry macular degeneration. You can, however, unfortunately become legally blind which means that the central vision is poor enough to result in your better eye seeing no better than 20/200 vision. However, being legally blind is not the same as medically blind.

Q.  What about vitamins? I've heard they can help prevent macular degeneration.

A.  Multivitamins with special additives which have been studied a part of the AREDS study may stabilize macular degeneration. Accordingly, we advise our patients to take these vitamins regularly. There is no guarantee by any means that they will prevent progression of the disease in any individual patient. You must also please consult with your primary care doctor before switching from one multivitamin to another. Finally, smokers need to be particularly aware of all the dosages of their multivitamins, specifically vitamin A quantities being ingested.

Q.  How dangerous are these new shots?

A.  Not dangerous at all, it can be a real benefit to the patient's long term vision.   When we diagnose wet macular degeneration, the administration of the anti-VEGF medication into the vitreous cavity can be a real benefit to the patients long term vision. The shots are performed in the office and not require any recuperation. They are often given over many weeks depending on the response of the blood vessels to the medication administered.

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