Photodynamic therapy may be recommended if you can't have injections of medicines to treat your AMD or if these injections don't work.footnote 1
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 central vision loss.
Photodynamic therapy takes about 20 minutes and may be done
in a doctor's office or eye clinic.
What To Expect After Treatment
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.
Why It Is Done
The main treatment for wet AMD is injections of anti-VEGF medicines into the eye. Photodynamic therapy is not usually recommended. But when anti-VEGF injections can't be used or don't work, photodynamic therapy is one option that may be recommended.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.
How Well It Works
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:
Temporary visual disturbances (abnormal vision,
decreased vision, defects in the visual field).
bleeding, or inflammation at the site where the verteporfin medicine is
injected. Some people also experience low back pain related to the injection of
Photosensitivity reactions (such as sunburn).
What To Think About
The effectiveness and long-term consequences of PDT
are still being studied.
Your doctor will help you weigh the risks and benefits of
PDT based on your history and the results of your exams and tests, and
on his or her own experience in treating the disease.
Nunes RP, et al. (2014). Age-related macular degeneration. In M Yanoff, JS Duker, et al., eds., Ophthalmology, 3rd ed., pp. 580-599. Edinburgh: Mosby Elsevier.
Arnold J, Heriot W (2007). AMD, search date March 2006. BMJ Clinical Evidence. Available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerChristopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology