Age-related Macular Degeneration takes one of two forms:  dry or wet.  Dry macular degeneration causes the loss of vision in the macula, or central vision area of the retina.  Wet macular degeneration is caused by the growth of tiny blood vessels under the retina.  Ophthalmologists used to think that dry macular degeneration was a more benign form, because it developed more slowly, but now studies of long term treatment of wet macular degeneration with anti-VEGF drugs show that it slows the development and improves vision in about 46% of the cases compared to older methods of treatment
While having an injection directly into the eye sounds pretty terrifying to most people, it actually is not as painful as it sounds.  Patients tolerate the shots very well, which they receive about once a month.  The injections inhibit the growth of the small blood vessels that cause the wet form of macular degeneration.  Two pharmaceutical brands were introduced around 2006, Lucentis and Avastin.  Lucentis is usually the drug of choice, while Avastin is also used to inhibit the growth of tumors in certain types of cancers.  .
Since the introduction of this new treatment, results of long term studies show that it does slow the progression of the disease sufficiently that fewer people need to enter long term care facilities because of loss of vision.  Vision quality, while not perfect, is good enough that people can remain independent and in their own homes.  The results have helped change the way ophthalmologists think about treatment and have made great improvements in the treatment of people with this form of macular degeneration.
Jama Opthalmology, online 01.23.2014;

Review by Marcia McCall

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