Photodynamic Therapy for Macular Degeneration

Written by on April 18, 2011 in Treatments - No comments

Photodynamic therapy for macular degeneration is one of the treatments used for some people to prevent further vision loss from the disease. The idea of this treatment can be confusing because it involves a photosensitive drug. Here we will look at how photodynamic therapy for macular degeneration basically works as well as what you can expect from it.

How Photodynamic Therapy for Macular Degeneration Works

This therapy involves a drug called Visudyne which gets injected into your body.  A low-dose laser is then directed onto the damaged area of your retina and causes the drug to seal off the blood vessels.

The drug Visudyne that is used in this surgery for macular degeneration is photosensitive; meaning it is sensitive to light. It is also attracted to new blood vessels, such as those forming in your eye. The laser, which is made of only light rather than heated light, activates the Visudyne which then seals off the new vessels without damaging the surrounding cells by causing blood clots to form.

Unlike certain surgeries for macular degeneration, including laser surgery, photodynamic therapy for macular degeneration can be used even when the blood vessels are growing directly beneath the macula. Furthermore, it does not usually cause damage to healthy cells surrounding the vessels while the heated lasers do tend to do this.

Are There Risks Associated with Photodynamic Therapy for Macular Degeneration?

There are a few risks associated with this therapy. In less than 4% of people, there is a severe vision loss after treatment. More common risks are that there may be a temporary symptom of visual disturbances, which could include being able to see less than you are used to or having your visual field look a bit different.

Sometimes the area of your body where the doctor injected the medication will experience swelling or inflammation, potentially even low back pain. These are temporary symptoms and could be well worth the benefit if your sight is saved.

Since photodynamic therapy for macular degeneration involves a drug that is photosensitive and activated by light, you should follow your doctor’s instructions closely on avoiding sunlight for a certain amount of time after treatment. You may find your skin is more susceptible to sunburn after treatment for a limited amount of time.

Is Photodynamic Therapy for Macular Degeneration a Permanent Cure?

Sadly, no, there is no known cure for wet macular degeneration. Photodynamic therapy for macular degeneration does, however, help to slow the progress of the disease. It limits the growth of the new blood vessels, which helps to prevent the condition from progressing and keep you from losing more of your sight. Photodynamic therapy for macular degeneration is only effective for about three months and may need to get repeated for your situation to stay stable.

Photodynamic therapy for macular degeneration is not for everyone, but for some people it is the best option. There are some people who get photodynamic therapy for macular degeneration but see no noticeable benefit, which could be because of their particular situation and where the new blood vessels are growing.

Because photodynamic therapy for macular degeneration does not work to heal the damage that is already done, it is good to get it as soon as possible if your doctor recommends it. This treatment has helped many to preserve their sight with minimal side effects. If you have been diagnosed with wet AMD and have not talked to your doctor about photodynamic therapy for macular degeneration, now could be the perfect time.

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