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Home > Wellness Resources > Health Library > Photodynamic Therapy for Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment for
wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD). It is not used to treat
In photodynamic therapy, a light-sensitive medicine
called verteporfin (Visudyne) is injected into the bloodstream. The medicine
collects in the abnormal blood vessels under the macula. Laser light is then
shone into the eye, which activates the medicine and causes it to create blood
clots that block the abnormal blood vessels.
By sealing the leaky
blood vessels, photodynamic therapy slows down:
Photodynamic therapy takes about 20 minutes and may be done
in a doctor's office or eye clinic.
The verteporfin medicine used in PDT
makes your skin and eyes more sensitive to light. After treatment, avoid direct sunlight for 2 to 5 days. And when you have to be outdoors, wear dark
sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Your doctor will want you to
come back for a follow-up exam in about a month.
Photodynamic therapy is used to treat
wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) only. And PDT can only be used for a
minority of cases.footnote 1
the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula, photodynamic therapy may
help prevent the progression of wet AMD. It does not restore vision to eyes
that have already been damaged. But it may help prevent further damage to the
retina and further vision loss.
think that photodynamic therapy may be more effective and less destructive than
laser surgery. Laser treatment almost always causes some immediate, permanent
central vision loss (a central blind spot). And laser treatment does not always prevent
future growth of abnormal blood vessels. Photodynamic therapy may be better
able to target the blood vessels without damaging the nerve cells in the retina
PDT can lower the risk of severe
vision loss by reducing the growth of and leakage from abnormal blood vessels
under the retina.footnote 2 How well the treatment works
depends on where and how the abnormal blood vessels are growing beneath the
retina. For some types of wet AMD, the treatment has no detectable benefit.
The effect of PDT in slowing the progress of AMD is often
temporary, and the abnormal blood vessels begin leaking again after about 3
months. Most people need multiple treatments to get the full benefits of the
A severe loss in visual clarity happens to some people who are treated with PDT. In some cases, vision partially
Other side effects that may
occur with PDT include:
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) has been
shown to be effective for only certain types of wet AMD.
The effectiveness and long-term consequences of PDT
are still being studied.
Complete the special treatment information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.
Rosenfeld PJ, et al. (2009). Age-related macular degeneration. In M Yanoff et al., eds., Ophthalmology, 3rd ed., pp. 658–673. Edinburgh: Mosby Elsevier.
Arnold J, Heriot W (2007). AMD, search date March 2006. BMJ Clinical Evidence. Available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerChristopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Current as ofAugust 21, 2015
Current as of:
August 21, 2015
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
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