The main treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) is injections of medicines into the eye. But in some cases, doctors recommend laser surgery.
Retinal laser photocoagulation is a type of laser
surgery that uses an intense beam of light to burn small areas of the
retina. The burns form scar tissue that seals the blood
vessels. By sealing the leaky blood
vessels, laser photocoagulation slows down central vision loss.
Laser surgery may be done in a doctor's office or eye
clinic using a local anesthetic that affects only the eye area. The surgery
itself is painless.
What To Expect After Surgery
Laser photocoagulation does not
involve a hospital stay. You will need someone to pick you up at the doctor's
office or clinic. Your pupils will be widened (dilated) for the surgery. And
they will remain dilated for several hours. Wear sunglasses to keep bright
light out of your eyes while they are dilated.
Your vision may be
blurry. And your eye may hurt a little for a day or two after the
Why It Is Done
Most of the time the treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) is anti-VEGF medicines that are injected into the eye. Laser treatment is not usually recommended. But for certain cases of wet AMD, laser photocoagulation may be recommended. footnote 1
How Well It Works
Laser surgery will not restore
vision that has already been lost because of macular degeneration. But it can
sometimes slow down or delay further damage to a person's
central vision. Even repeated treatment is not usually
effective over the long term in preventing some loss of central vision.
The most serious drawback to
laser surgery is that the laser damages some of the nerve cells in the macula. This causes some vision loss.
What To Think About
Your doctor will help you weigh the risks and benefits of
laser surgery based on your history and the results of your exams and tests, and
on his or her own experience in treating the disease.
You will return for follow-up exams to make sure that the blood vessels
have not started to leak again. At home, check for changes in your vision by
using an Amsler grid.
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.
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