What is Photodynamic Laser Therapy for the Eye?
Photodynamic laser therapy is used to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In this technique, ophthalmologists (eye doctors) target focused light called a laser along with specific medications on your eyes to prevent vision loss.
What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
The innermost layer at the back of your eyes, called the retina, consists of light-sensitive nerve endings that convert light into electrical impulses which are sent to the brain through the optic nerve. The macula is the central zone of the retina which provides the most central and distinct vision.
In age-related macular degeneration, the macula gets damaged. It may become thinner and blood vessels may start to grow beneath it. This may cause fluid to leak underneath the macula. The excess fluid may cause gradual vision loss.
Procedure: Photodynamic Laser Therapy for the Eye
Photodynamic laser therapy is performed as an outpatient procedure in an eye clinic or an ophthalmologist’s office.
- Your ophthalmologist may inject a photosensitive medication into a vein in your arm that tends to collect in the abnormal blood vessels under your macula.
- Then, you would be administered an anaesthetic eye drop to numb the eye.
- A special contact lens is then placed on your eye to help focus the laser at the exact spot at the back of your eye.
- The laser is focussed on your eye and the light from the laser activates the medication that has collected under the macula.
- The medication then creates blood clots in the abnormal blood vessels present in your eyes. This seals them off and helps prevent further loss of vision.
- Your eye doctor may cover your eye temporarily to promote healing.
What are the Benefits of Photodynamic Laser Therapy?
Photodynamic laser therapy is an effective treatment for age-related macular degeneration. AMD causes significant loss of central vision in older people but rarely causes complete blindness. Since AMD affects the macula, you may still retain your peripheral (side) vision.
Photodynamic laser therapy may not restore the vision that you have already lost. But it can help slow down further damage to your central vision.
What are the Risks and Complications of Photodynamic Laser Therapy for Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
As with any medical procedure, photodynamic laser therapy may also carry certain risks and complications such as:
- Light sensitivity
- Generation of a new blind spot
- Poor vision
The intensity of adverse reactions depends on your age, severity of your AMD and concurrent medical conditions.
Care after Photodynamic Laser Therapy
You will be discharged to home on the same day of the photodynamic laser therapy.
- You should have someone to drive you home after the procedure.
- Your eyes and skin will be more sensitive to light for a few days after the procedure. To avoid discomfort, stay indoors, and avoid direct sunlight.
- If you need to go outside, wear sun protection glasses and covered clothing.
- After the procedure:
- You may experience slight soreness in the treated eye. You can take medications provided by your eye doctor to keep comfortable.
When to Visit an Eye Specialist after Photodynamic Laser Therapy?
You should visit an eye doctor if you develop any of the following symptoms in your eyes:
- Intense pain
- Increased redness
- Decreased vision
What are the Alternatives to Photodynamic Laser Therapy?
Your eye specialist may recommend medications that can reduce the growth of abnormal blood vessels.