If detected at an early stage, wet AMD can be treated with two methods, laser surgery or photodynamic therapy.
Laser surgery is done in a doctor's office or clinic and takes only a few minutes. Individuals undergoing treatment may get a local anesthetic to ease any discomfort from a contact placed on the eye during treatment. The actual treatment does not hurt. They can go home right after the procedure and resume normal activities.
Laser surgery does not involve cutting into the eye. Rather, the doctor shines a laser beam through the pupil of the eye and onto the retina. The beam destroys new blood vessels that are growing in the macula.
Laser surgery does not cure AMD, or restore lost vision. It does prevent additional loss of vision. By destroying fragile new blood vessels, it prevents oozing of blood and fluid that damages macula cells. Laser surgery may be repeated if more new blood vessels start growing in the macula.
- Laser surgery is suitable for only about 15 percent of people with wet AMD.
- Most people seek treatment too late - after new blood vessels already have grown too far into the focusing area of macula.
- If done at this advanced stage, laser surgery could further damage vision.
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Photodynamic therapy (PDT), was approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration in April 2000. It involves injecting the patient with a special drug that becomes active when exposed to a certain kind of laser light. The drug flows into the abnormal vessels in the macula. Then the eye doctor focuses the special laser on the vessels. Laser light activates the drug, causing a chemical reaction that destroys the abnormal blood vessels.
- PDT is done in the doctor's office, and the patient can resume normal activities after treatment.
- Treatment must be repeated about 5 times over a period of two years.
- Clinical trials showed that macular degeneration remained stable and did not worsen in about 67 per cent of patients treated with PDT. In contrast, the disease remained stable in 30 per cent of control patients who got no PDT.