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What is a Macular Degeneration Injection?

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  • Written By: Terri Forehand
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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A macular degeneration injection is a shot of prescribed medication given by a qualified physician to treat "wet" macular degeneration. It is injected directly into the patient's eye in a bid to improve vision. A qualified ophthalmologist will determine the number of injections needed for a course of treatment varying from once a week to once a month.

Macular degeneration is an eye disease that distorts vision and causes objects to appear wavy or blurred. The wet form of the disease is the result of an abnormality in the blood vessels growing in the back of the eye. Often, these vessels will leak, causing the blurry vision. Related vision loss can be quick and severe if not treated.

The “dry” form of macular degeneration is more age-related. Treatment for the dry form of macular degeneration does not include eye injections, because clinical trials have not shown them to be effective. Vision loss can also be sudden and severe with the dry form, and eye drops are prescribed to try to stop further degeneration of the retina.

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A macular degeneration injection for the wet form of the disease seems to work by blocking and inhibiting substances that encourage the growth of blood vessels. By blocking these substances in the retina, blood vessels do not continue to grow and vision loss seems to slow or stop. While clinical studies continue to look for effective treatments or cures for either form of the disease, a macular degeneration injection typically comes in three forms that, in 2010, were used with consistently good results.

The medications used in a macular degeneration injection also are used in colon cancer treatment. The medication is believed to work on cancerous tumors by stopping their vascular growth. With less blood supply feeding the tumor, the cancer cannot spread and the tumor can be shrunk with other therapies. The same principle is used in the treatment of the extra blood vessels found in the wet form of macular degeneration. Inhibiting the growth of blood vessels with the injection appears to inhibit vision loss.

Side effects of a macular degeneration injection may include eye pain and allergic reactions including rash, hives, shortness of breath, and itching. Some patients may experience redness in the eye itself, irritation around the eyelids, and corneal swelling. The risk of side effects is generally considered minimal compared to the possibility of stopping the progression of macular degeneration.

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