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Living Well with Geographic Atrophy

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How Treating Dry AMD Early Can Prevent Vision Loss

Medically Reviewed By Leela Raju, MD

Lifestyle modifications, nutritional supplements, and newly approved drugs can help protect your vision with dry age-related macular degeneration.


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the top causes of vision loss in older adults.

AMD is classified as one of two types: dry or wet. Dry AMD is the most common, accounting for more than 80% of AMD cases.

Dry AMD doesn’t cause complete vision loss. Instead, it affects your central vision while leaving your peripheral vision intact. Dry AMD worsens over time, but early treatment can slow its progression.

If you’ve been diagnosed with dry AMD, here’s how the proper treatment can help.

Lifestyle changes for early dry AMD

Dry AMD develops when your macula, found in the center of your retina, wears down as you age. The tissue in your macula becomes thin, and yellow protein deposits, called drusen, may begin to accumulate.

In the early stages, your doctor may observe these changes in your retina and macula even before you experience vision problems. Your doctor may suggest the following lifestyle modifications to prolong your eye health and protect your vision:

  • Incorporate a rainbow of brightly colored fruits and vegetables into your meals: Think green leafy vegetables, like spinach and kale, orange carrots, and red grapefruit. They are full of antioxidants and vitamins that are good for your eyes.
  • Eat fish regularly: Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon and tuna seem to protect the eyes.
  • Maintain a moderate weight: Being overweight places stress on the body that may contribute to the development of AMD.
  • Avoid smoking: Chemicals in smoke can cause inflammation and damage to the eyes. People with AMD who smoke may have faster progression and be less responsive to treatment.

Special vitamins for intermediate dry AMD

As dry AMD progresses, your doctor may notice large drusen. You may also have changes in the pigment of your retina. At this intermediate stage, vitamin supplements called AREDS 2 are typically recommended.

The Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and ARED2) were large clinical trials examining the effects of certain vitamins and minerals on AMD progression. They found that high doses of specific supplements helped slow vision loss. AREDS 2 supplements include Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source :

  • 500 milligrams (mg) vitamin C
  • 400 international units (IU) vitamin E
  • 2 mg copper
  • 80 mg zinc
  • 10 mg lutein
  • 2 mg zeaxanthin

Medications for advanced dry AMD

Dry AMD can progress to a late stage called geographic atrophy. Cells in your retina begin to die off. These areas can progressively expand to cover your macula, leading to central vision loss. You may develop blurry or blank spots when you look straight ahead. Driving, reading, and recognizing faces may become challenging.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two medications to treat geographic atrophy — pegcetacoplan (Syfovre) and avacincaptad pegol (Izervay). They can’t reverse vision loss that has occurred, but they can preserve your existing vision for a longer time.

Both drugs are injected into the eye once a month or every few months. They target specific proteins involved in your body’s immune system response, which play a role in AMD progression.

Monitoring your vision with dry AMD

Since treatment for dry AMD depends on your stage, staying in touch with your eye doctor is essential. Follow your doctor’s guidance regarding how often to schedule your follow-up eye exams.

In between appointments, take note of any changes in your vision. Consider using an Amsler grid daily, a printed square with a grid-like pattern, to help you identify any disruptions in your visual field. Regular use of an Amsler may allow you to catch and treat vision changes early. Notify your eye doctor right away if you notice issues.

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Medical Reviewer: Leela Raju, MD
Last Review Date: 2024 Apr 1
View All Living Well with Geographic Atrophy Articles
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