Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration

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Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration, is a leading cause of vision loss and requires prompt evaluation and treatment. Most people who develop the condition have the dry form, which can cause blind spots in your central vision. About 10 percent of people have the wet form of macular degeneration, which can lead to serious vision loss.

While there is currently no cure for macular degeneration, Duke retinal specialists use sophisticated imaging technology and the latest treatment advances to diagnose and manage the condition. We do everything we can to slow vision loss and maximize your quality of life.

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AREDS Formula Vitamins

The large-scale Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that high levels of vitamins and zinc may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by up to 25 percent. The AREDS and AREDS2 formulations do not require a prescription and currently are the only treatment available for dry macular degeneration.

Anti-VEGF Injections

Medications that block or inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) have proven effective at limiting the growth of new blood vessels and diminishing their injury to the retina. Monthly injections in or around the eye may prevent vision loss from wet macular degeneration.

Photodynamic Therapy

A dye is injected into your arm to make abnormal blood vessels in your eye sensitive to light. A low-power laser (“cold” laser) is then used to activate the dye, sealing off leaking blood vessels associated with wet macular degeneration.

Steroid Injections

A long-acting, anti-inflammatory steroid is injected into the white portion of your eye to decrease blood vessel growth and reduce retinal swelling.

Photocoagulation Therapy

A high-powered laser (“hot” laser) sears leaking, abnormal blood vessels associated with wet macular degeneration. May be used when the abnormal vessels are outside the center of the macula.

Macular Translocation Surgery

Lifts the macula away from underlying blood vessels and moves it to a new, healthier location to restore central vision. 

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Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


Your retinal specialist will use a variety of imaging devices to conduct a thorough examination of your eyes, their structure, and nerves. Additional tests measure intraocular pressure, the extent of damage, and possible vision loss.

Dilated Retinal Exam

Dilation drops allow your doctor to get a better look at your lens, optic nerve, macula, and peripheral retina. 

Distance Visual Acuity

Measures the accuracy of your vision by determining the smallest letters you can see on a chart.

Amsler Grid

A pattern of straight horizontal and vertical lines may appear wavy if you have macular degeneration.


Dye is injected into your arm to identify new or leaking blood vessels, as well as blood in the macula. Special imaging devices help the doctor see what cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Optical Coherence Tomography

OCT is a computer-guided device that creates a 3-D image map of the front part of your eye, the optic and retinal nerves, and the macula. It detects changes in the thickness of the macula and looks for small defects that may be difficult to obtain during a visual field test. 

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Leaders in Macular Degeneration Research and Treatment

Leading Retinal Specialists
Our retinal specialists travel the country to lecture and teach courses on macular degeneration. Our experience and knowledge mean we are well versed in all the latest advances. You receive your care from some of the best retinal specialists in the country.

Latest Retinal Imaging Devices
We use sophisticated imaging technologies to create more precise images of the inside of your eye. This helps us identify subtleties and patterns that guide the treatment decisions we recommend to you.

Research Advancements
Our retinal specialists are also researchers whose goal is to develop drugs that target certain actions involved in disease progression. You may be eligible to contribute to our research, which may lead to a better understanding of macular degeneration, more effective therapies, and new ways to manage the disease.

Low Vision Rehabilitation
If you are experiencing vision loss related to macular degeneration, we conduct a thorough evaluation of your needs and give you the tools and knowledge to optimize your visual function and maximize your quality of life.

Comprehensive Support
Our clinical social worker is available to help you cope with the emotional and psychological stress of vision loss, as well as other medical or environmental concerns.

Duke University Hospital is nationally ranked in 10 adult specialties
Best Eye Hospital in NC
When it comes to your care, you want the very best. Duke University Hospital’s ophthalmology program is ranked seventh in the nation and best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.