If your doctor approached you with a needle and said, “I’m just going to stick this in your eye,” you’d probably think he was joking. But if you have a particular kind of macular degeneration, injections in the eye may be just what the doctor ordered.
Defining Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration or AMD is a condition that causes gradual loss of the sharp, center part of your vision that is necessary for activities such as reading and driving. When light enters the eye, it passes through the cornea and lens and is focused on the retina which is the inner lining on the back of the eye. The retina contains special cells that act as light receptors. The macula is the center portion of the retina which allows you to see fine details. In macular degeneration, the macula becomes damaged and blank spots appear in the vision. It may appear as though there is a hole or black spot in the center of your vision.
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two types of AMD:
• Dry AMD- Most patients have what is known as dry macular degeneration, which can be a normal byproduct of aging as tissues in the eye become thinner.
• Wet AMD - Approximately 10 percent of macular degeneration cases are the wet form of the disease. This type of AMD is caused by new blood vessels that are formed in the retina of the eye and which leak blood and fluid into the eye. This causes damage to the light sensor cells in the retina, which creates blind spots in the central vision.
Macular Degeneration Treatment Injections
Wet AMD develops as a result of abnormally high levels of a specific growth factor in the eye that trigger the development of new blood vessels. Treatments are now available to stop new blood vessels from forming by injecting medication into the eye that blocks the effects of the growth factor. During treatment, your eye will first be numbed, then your eye doctor will inject the medication through the white portion on the side of the eye. Injections can be given in the eye doctor’s office and may be needed as often as every month.