Dry macular degeneration cannot be cured, but some dietary and lifestyle changes can prevent it from getting worse. AMD occurs less often in people who exercise, eat healthily, and don’t smoke.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), foods rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids are good for eye health. These nutrients are associated with a lower risk of developing AMD later in life. Recommended foods include citrus fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, vegetable oils, and nuts.
The AAO also notes that people with or at risk of developing AMD can benefit from a low-glycemic index diet. The glycemic index ranks how quickly and in what quantity foods raise blood sugar. A low-glycemic index diet tends to be high in nonstarchy vegetables and whole or minimally processed grains, and low in processed foods, such as chips and commercially baked goods.
A daily combination of certain vitamins and supplements, now sold as AREDS 2, was shown to be effective in delaying the progression of intermediate AMD to advanced AMD by about 25 percent in two studies from the National Eye Institute. These dietary supplements contain high amounts of substances that are naturally found in the macula.
The ingredients in a daily dose of AREDS 2 (often divided into two softgels) are as follows:
- 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
- 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E
- 25 to 80 mg of zinc as zinc oxide
- 2 mg copper as copper oxide
- 10 mg of lutein
- 2 mg zeaxanthin
Your ophthalmologist can tell you if taking AREDS 2 supplements might be helpful in treating dry AMD. Supplementation has not been shown to prevent early AMD from progressing to intermediate AMD.
Geographical atrophy injection
In early 2023, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug pegcetacoplan (Syfovre) for the treatment of geographic atrophy.
Pegcetacoplan is injected directly into the eye every 25 to 60 days. In studies, the drug reduced the growth of lesions in the retina, thus protecting a person’s remaining vision. There was no indication that the injection improved patients’ vision.
Visual impairment rehabilitation
Once vision loss with dry AMD has occurred, it may be helpful to work with a professional trained in rehabilitating low vision. You can learn about technologies and devices — like speakers, text-to-speech electronics, and useful apps — that can make navigating the world a little easier.
Miniature implantable telescopes
A select group of people with advanced dry macular degeneration in both eyes, who meet certain specific requirements, may have the option to improve their vision by implanting a telescopic lens in one eye, according to the Mayo Clinic. These implantable miniature telescopes (IMTs) look like a very small plastic tube and work by magnifying and projecting images onto the still healthy areas of the retina. An ophthalmologist can implant an IMT in an outpatient procedure.
The eye with IMT is then used for central vision, while the non-implanted eye provides peripheral vision. Postoperative therapy is needed to retrain the brain to use each eye in this way, explains the AAO.