Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a cold laser treatment that is still being used to treat patients with wet AMD, though much less frequently now that useful drugs are available. It may be tried in combination with Lucentis or other anti-angiogenic drugs, as that may increase the effectiveness. In PDT, a drug (Visudyne) that reacts to light is injected into the patient’s arm. Once it moves up to the eye it pools in those damaged new blood vessels of the retina.

A laser with a low power (a cold laser) is used. When exposed to the laser, Viudyne seals off the leaking vessels. Since it does not stay in the healthy retinal cells, they do not react to the laser and are not damaged.

However, since the photoreactive material remains in the body for several days, patients must stay out of the sun and cover up carefully on their trip home from the ophthalmologist or they will get a severe sunburn. Otherwise, few side effects or complications have been reported and the treatment can be successful for selected patients.