Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a two-stage treatment that combines light energy with a photosensitizer. Photosensitizers are drugs that are nontoxic until activated by light. Once this happens, they become toxic and destroy the targeted tissues. Several photosensitizer drugs are available to treat psoriasis, ance, several cancers and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
For the purpose of this article, we’re going to talk about photodynamic therapy and how it’s used to treat macular degeneration, a common eye condition that can lead to permanent vision loss.
What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration is an eye disease that gets worse over time. It’s the leading cause of permanent vision loss for people over 60. It happens when the central part of your retina, the macula, wears down. Risk factors for this condition include your genetics, obesity, high blood pressure and smoking.
The best way to detect and manage AMD is by seeing your eye doctor regularly. There is no cure for AMD, so once it happens, your only choice is to manage it and keep the symptoms controlled. There are a number of treatment options available, including medication, laser therapy and photodynamic therapy. PDT is only recommended for those with wet AMD.
Photodynamic Therapy for AMD
During PDT, a laser is focused through the eye and onto the retina. It comes in contact with the medicine, which is injected into the bloodstream. When this happens, the medicine reacts and seals the abnormal blood vessels to prevent further damage to the eye. The procedure takes around 20 minutes and can be administered in a doctor’s office or eye clinic.
How well this procedure works depends on where and how the abnormal blood vessels are growing beneath the retina. Sometimes, the abnormal blood vessels will start leaking after three months, prompting additional laser treatments. Be sure to follow up with your retina specialist regularly.
Am I a Candidate for Photodynamic Therapy?
If you have wet age-related macular degeneration, you may be a candidate for PDT. Your eye doctor will weigh the risks and benefits based on your history and the results of your exams and tests. Do keep in mind that the experience of the retina specialist makes a difference. If you do want to have this procedure done, choose a specialist that has experience in PDT as well as favorable outcomes.
Empire Retina Consultants are top retina specialists in NY and NJ. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Aizman and learn about your options for treating AMD. While there is no cure for this condition, it can be successfully managed with the right combination of treatments.