Current and Emerging Treatment

All patients with AMD should be educated about healthy lifestyle choices including regular exercise; smoking cessation; wearing protective eyewear in the sun; and a diet that incorporates fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts.1 Early recognition and coordinated care between primary care providers and vision specialists will lead to timely management, which may decrease the incidence of permanent blindness due to AMD.1

Once visual acuity has reached the point in which self-care becomes difficult, referral to a low-vision rehabilitation specialist becomes a vital part of care.1,2 Providers can monitor this on a regular basis. No approved treatment exists for early Age-Related Macular Degeneration; however current research is evaluating approaches to managing early to intermediate AMD, particularly dry AMD. Patients may be given an Amsler grid to self-evaluate on a weekly basis for any changes in vision, such as missing areas of the grid or distorted/wavy lines.1 See the Figure below for an example of a patient self-evaluation of visual changes using an Amsler grid.

Figure: Patient self-evaluation of vision changes using an Amsler grid.1

Providers also can ask patients to test their vision in each eye by regularly covering one eye at a time and reading, noting any new changes in vision. Follow-up should be arranged anywhere from 6 to 24 months, with the understanding that patients should return promptly if they experience any new symptoms. Two benchmark studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 1 and 2 (AREDS 1 and 2), provided evidence supporting that nutritional supplements can reduce the risk of progression to advanced AMD.1,3 Based on the results from AREDS 1 and 2, patients with intermediate AMD, noncentral AMD, advanced AMD, or vision loss in one eye due to AMD are advised to take a combination of antioxidant supplements and zinc. Recently approved therapies targeting elements of the complement cascade, pegcetacoplan (C3, OAKS and DERBY) and avacincaptad pegol (C5, GATHER 1/2), are now available as injectables, aimed at stopping immune attacks on the retina that result in geographic atrophy.4-6 Patients should also follow up with their ophthalmologist every 6 to 18 months or sooner if any new symptoms develop.1

For patients with wet AMD, first-line therapy is intravitreal injections with VEGF inhibitors, which limit the destructive effects of neovascularization on retinal tissue. These injections can stabilize or possibly reverse vision loss.1,7 Large randomized clinical trials have found similar results in efficacy with the use of both ranibizumab and bevacizumab.1,8 Aflibercept has had comparable results to both ranibizumab and bevacizumab, but with a longer duration of action; ranibizumab and bevacizumab are injected every 4 weeks and aflibercept every 8 weeks.1 (see Table below for results from selected studies of commonly used anti-VEGF therapies) Higher molar concentration aflibercept (8mg) was recently FDA-approved for the treatment of nAMD (PULSAR), with injections every 8-16 weeks after 3 initial monthly doses.9 Therapy should be initiated at the first signs and symptoms of neovascular disease. Any delay in therapy (more than 21 weeks) is associated with poorer vision outcomes.1,10

CNV = choroidal neovascularization; PDT = photodynamic therapy; VA = visual acuity.
Table: Results from selected studies of anti-VEGF therapies commonly used for the management of AMD.11,17-20

Brolucizumab-dbll, is a human VEGF (VEGFA) inhibitor indicated for the treatment of neovascular (wet) AMD, approved by the FDA based on results from two Phase 3 noninferiority clinical trials, HAWK and HARRIER, that compared brolucizumab and aflibercept. Brolucizumab is administered by intravitreal injection every month for the first 3 doses, then every 8 to 12 weeks.12-13 Faricimab, a bispecific antibody inhibiting VEGF-A and Ang-2, has also been FDA-approved for the treatment of wet AMD (TENAYA/LUCERNE).21 Abicipar pegol, a designed ankyrin repeat proteins (DARPin) therapy (CEDAR and SEQUOIA) was rejected by the FDA for the treatment of wet AMD due to concerns over intraocular inflammation.14

Photodynamic therapy typically is used when there is no response to initial treatment with VEGF inhibitors, and can be used alone or in combination with anti-VEGF medications.1 A photosensitizing dye is injected intravenously and a photoactivating laser is applied through the eye immediately afterward. Neovascular tissue retains more dye than other vessels; the dye forms reactive free radicals that damage the vascular endothelium and cause thrombosis of these new vessels. Unfortunately, vessels may reopen, which would necessitate repeated therapy. The use of photodynamic therapy has decreased significantly with the increased use of anti-VEGF therapy. Thermal laser photocoagulation is a therapy that is rarely recommended.1,3 This treatment can cause vision loss due to enlargement of current scotoma or development of a new scotoma. Any use of this treatment should be limited to areas outside the macula.1

Emerging Targets

The identification of modifiable risk factors and the development of future preventive treatments are crucial because there is currently no available treatment of dry AMD. Efforts focus on understanding the pathophysiology of the disease for the scientific development of rationale treatments. Several innovative treatments for dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration are in progress;11 some studies have used medication to target the inflammation associated with AMD, while others have looked at therapies that reduce the effects of oxidative stress. Researchers also have considered stem cell-based therapies to regenerate damaged photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium.1,15

Three AMD therapies that were not successful recently include lampalizumab, humanized monoclonal antibody (Fab fragment), that is a selective inhibitor of complement factor D, for dry AMD; and pegpleranib/E10030, which is an inhibitor of platelet-derived growth factor (anti-PDGF) aptamer that binds to PDGF; and OHR-102, squalamine eye drop; for wet AMD.16

Other treatment modalities under investigation for wet AMD include the role of stereotactic radiotherapy (ie, use of a low-voltage external beam) as adjunctive treatments to anti-VEGF therapy to reduce the frequency of intravitreal injections needed while maintaining visual acuity and other modulators of angiogenesis.11


  1. Cunningham J. Recognizing age-related macular degeneration in primary care. JAAPA. 2017;30(3):18-22.
  2. Marra KV, Wagley S, Kuperwaser MC, et al. Care of older adults: role of primary care physicians in the treatment of cataracts and macular degeneration. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016;64(2):369-377.
  3. Schmidl D, Garhöfer G, Schmetterer L. Nutritional supplements in age-related macular degeneration. Acta Ophthalmol. 2015; 93(2):105-121.
  4. Khurana RN, et al. New treatments for age-related macular degeneration. AAO EyeSmart©. 2023.
  5. Heier JS, et al. Pegcetacoplan for the treatment of geographic atrophy secondary to age-related macular degeneration (OAKS and DERBY): two multicentre, randomised, double-masked, sham-controlled, phase 3 trials. Lancet. 2023; 402:1434-1448.
  6. Jaffe GJ, et al. C5 inhibitor avacincaptad pegol for geographic atrophy due to age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalmology. 2021. 128:576-586.
  7. Michalska-Malecka K, Kabiesz A, Nowak M, Spiewak D. Age related macular degeneration—challenge for future: pathogenesis and new perspectives for the treatment. Eur Geriatr Med. 2015;6(1):69-75.
  8. Solomon SD, Lindsley K, Vedula SS, et al. Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor for neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(8):CD005139.
  9. News release. 8/18/23 (
  10. Lim JH, Wickremasinghe SS, Xie J, et al. Delay to treatment and visual outcomes in patients treated with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor for age-related macular degeneration. Am J Ophthalmol. 2012;153(4):678-686.e2.
  11. Al-Zamil WM, Yassin SA. Recent developments in age-related macular degeneration: a review. Clin Interv Aging. 2017;12:1313–1330.
  12. Campbell P. Brolucizumab Receives FDA Approval for Wet AMD.
  13. Beovu (brolucizumab) Approval History.
  14. EyeWire News. The FDA Does Not Approve Allergan’s Wet AMD Drug Candidate Abicipar Pegol. 2020.
  15. Nazari H, Zhang L, Zhu D, et al. Stem cell based therapies for age-related macular degeneration: the promises and the challenges. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2015;48:1-39.
  16. Rosenfeld PJ, Feuer WJ. Lessons from Recent Phase III Trial Failures: Don’t Design Phase III Trials Based on Retrospective Subgroup Analyses from Phase II Trials.
  17. Comparison of Age-related Macular Degeneration Treatments Trials: Lucentis-Avastin Trial (CATT).
  18. Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor VEGF Trap-Eye: Investigation of Efficacy and Safety in Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration(AMD) [VIEW I].
  19. Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Trap-Eye: Investigation of Efficacy and Safety in Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) [VIEW II].
  20. Seven Year Update of Macular Degeneration Patients (SEVEN-UP).
  21. Faricimab (Vabysmo®) Prescribing information (PI) 2023 (
All URLs accessed 1/24/24.

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Scientific Council

Neil M. Bressler, MD

James P. Gills Professor of Ophthalmology
Professor of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Baltimore, MD

A. Paul Chous, MA, OD, FAAO

Specializing in Diabetes Eye Care & Education, Chous Eye Care Associates
Adjunct Professor of Optometry, Western University of Health Sciences
AOA Representative, National Diabetes Education Program
Tacoma, WA

Steven Ferrucci, OD, FAAO

Chief of Optometry, Sepulveda VA Medical Center
Professor, Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University
Sepulveda, CA

Julia A. Haller, MD

Wills Eye Hospital
Philadelphia, PA

Allen C. Ho, MD, FACS

Director, Retina Research
Wills Eye Hospital
Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology
Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals
Philadelphia, PA

Charles C. Wykoff, MD, PhD

Director of Research, Retina Consultants of Houston
Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology
Blanton Eye Institute & Houston Methodist Hospital
Houston, TX

Clinician Scientific & Educational Resources

The RELIEF Clinical Toolkit is an online tool that aims to provide clinicians with up-to-date information on the presentation, prognosis, pathophysiology, and treatment strategies for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Click on one of the options below to learn more about AMD.

This activity is provided by Med Learning Group.
This activity is supported by an independent medical education grant from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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