Photodynamic Therapy

A therapy for the wet form of AMD that involves using a drug and a "cold" laser to destroy new, unwanted blood vessels.

Photodynamic therapy is for treating the wet form of AMD. This treatment involves injecting a light-activated drug (e.g., Visudyne® or Verteporforin®) into a patient's bloodstream that preferentially collects in areas of new blood vessel growth (angiogenesis). Once this drug is administered, a surgeon aims a low-intensity or "cool" laser at the area of blood vessel growth. The laser activates the drug, which then destroys the leaky blood vessels. Since the drug is confined within the blood vessel, the laser treatment mainly targets the vessel and does not harm the overlying retinal tissue. It is thought that photodynamic therapy offers patients with wet AMD a safer, more effective sight-saving therapy than traditional laser treatment. However, there are newer, anti-VEGF drugs, called Macugen® and Lucentis®, that have been reported to cause better retention of vision after treatment.