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Living Well with Geographic Atrophy

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Can Macular Degeneration Be Reversed? What to Know

Medically Reviewed By Vicente Diaz, MD, MBA

Macular degeneration and the damage it causes cannot be reversed. However, treatment can help slow or stop its progression and protect your vision. Macular degeneration is also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It is a progressive condition, meaning it worsens over time.

However, early treatment can be effective at protecting your vision and improving your outlook.

Learn more about the outlook of AMD, including possible reversal and what you can do to stop or slow the condition.

Can macular degeneration be reversed?

Someone sits in a chair with an optometric device over their face.
Photography by Miquel Llonch/Stocksy United

Currently, there is no cure Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source for AMD. Any damage it causes is permanent, meaning it cannot be reversed. However, researchers are continuing to look for new treatment options that may help.

What is the general outlook of macular degeneration?

AMD can be categorized as dry or wet AMD.

Both types can lead to permanent vision loss. However, dry AMD may progress more slowly and be less severe than wet AMD.

Vision loss with AMD is typically partial and doesn’t take away total vision. Instead, you may lose the ability to see in front of you.

In advanced stages of dry AMD, vision loss occurs due to Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source geographic atrophy. This is when cells in the macula die off gradually.

Read more about geographic atrophy.

Still, some treatment options may help prevent this damage and slow or stop AMD progression.

Find out more about how macular degeneration can be slowed or stopped below.

Can macular degeneration be stopped?

Contact an eye doctor immediately for any eye symptoms

If you notice vision or eye symptoms, contact an eye doctor immediately. Without treatment, wet AMD sometimes causes partial vision loss within weeks or months.

However, early diagnosis can help improve your outlook with AMD and reduce your risk of vision loss.

In some cases, treatment may help stop Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source AMD-related vision loss and eye damage, or at least slow its progress.

Currently, there is no specific treatment to stop early AMD. Instead, doctors may regularly monitor your eye health and recommend lifestyle approaches to help protect your eye health.

Still, treatment can help prevent intermediate AMD from developing into late or severe AMD that threatens vision. Also, AMD may stop progressing on its own, as not everyone experiences advanced stages of AMD or vision loss.

Read more about the stages and progression of AMD.

To stop AMD progression, your doctor may recommend Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source a combination of medical treatments, certain supplements, and lifestyle approaches.

Learn more about treatment options to stop or slow AMD progression below.

How can you slow the progression of macular degeneration?

Treatment to help slow or stop AMD can depend Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source on several factors. These include your symptoms, the type of AMD, and the condition’s stage at diagnosis.

During the early and intermediate stages of AMD, doctors may prescribe supplements known as AREDS or AREDS2. These contain a mix of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that have been proven Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source to help slow the progression of AMD.

For late dry AMD, injections with the newly approved medications pegcetacoplan (Syfovre) and avacincaptad (Izervay) may help slow Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source geographic atrophy.

The following lifestyle approaches are also a key part of AMD treatment and vision protection:

  • quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke
  • maintaining healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels
  • getting regular physical activity
  • eating a balanced diet with advice from your doctor or registered dietitian

For wet AMD, doctors may provide Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source medications known as anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs. These are given via an injection into the eye and help slow down the progression of the disease.

In some cases, specialists may also recommend photodynamic therapy. This uses a combination of anti-VEGF eye injections and laser treatment.

Read more about wet vs. dry AMD.

Currently, there are no further treatment options for late dry AMD. However, support and care approaches may help you manage vision loss and improve your quality of life. These can include:

  • occupational therapy
  • counseling or psychotherapy
  • anti-glare glasses
  • bright lights for reading or other tasks that require visual focus
  • magnifying lenses

Learn more about the treatment and outlook of AMD.

Summary

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) cannot be reversed. However, early and effective treatment may help slow or stop its progression and protect your remaining vision.

Treatment options include AREDS and AREDS2 supplements, lifestyle approaches to support eye health, and medication injections for wet AMD.

Talk with a doctor for personalized advice about AMD outlook and treatment. Also, contact an eye doctor as soon as possible for new or persistent eye symptoms.

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Medical Reviewer: Vicente Diaz, MD, MBA
Last Review Date: 2024 Jan 19
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