Visudyne photodynamic therapy is an exciting technique to treat some forms of the so-called "wet"macular degeneration and some other conditions in which abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina.
When abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina they can leak fluid, bleed, and scar. Unfortunately, the vision loss is often sudden and the damage is often permanent.
The basic principle of Visudyne photodynamic therapy is using a special medication and a laser together, each of which is not effective on their own. This combination helps to destroy the abnormal blood vessels. A special medication or dye called Visudyne is injected in the blood and it collects inside the abnormal blood vessels. Then a low-level laser light is used to change the dye, or activate it, into a substance that destroys the abnormal blood vessels without damaging surrounding tissue.
It is important to remember that not all forms of "wet" macular degeneration will benefit from this treatment. Your macular degeneration specialist will explain your individual circumstance.
It is important to also remember that the goal of Visudyne photodynamic therapy is not to improve the vision but to preserve the vision in the eye. A very small percentage may recover some vision.
As always, before any procedure, discuss it in detail with your doctor. Make sure you understand the benefits, alternatives to the procedure and their risks, what will happen without treatment, and the risks of the procedure. Make sure you get answers to your questions to help you make an informed decision.
The actual procedure usually involves the following: the person is taken to the laser room, an intravenous catheter requiring a needle stick in the arm is placed and Visudyne is slowly injected through the catheter over 10 minutes. After the dye injection is complete, there is a waiting period of 5 minutes before the laser treatment starts.
During that waiting period, a drop of a numbing eye drop is placed in the eye, and the person is positioned in a machine called a slit lamp that is similar to the machine in the exam room that requires you to put your chin in a chin rest and your forehead against a plastic bar while light is shined in your eye. Then a contact lens is placed on the eye. This contact lens does not hurt but can feel a little strange around your eyelids and this contact lens is removed immediately after the treatment.
The light in the eye is bright and you may see a red light. Look where the surgeon tells you, in this case, even at the red light. The surgeon positions the laser, focuses it, and aims it very carefully. The treatment usually involves 83 seconds of continuous laser and no pain.
Once the treatment has been completed, the contact lens is removed. The eye may feel a little sticky due to eye ointment that was needed on the contact lens. Do not rub the eye. The vision may also be poor due to the bright lights. The sticky feeling and the vision trouble usually resolve after several minutes.
It is recommend that you wear long sleeved clothing a bring sunglasses with you to the treatment. You should stay out of the sun and bright lights for 5 days. Remember that sunblock does not protect your skin. Do not schedule any procedure, such as dental work, that requires bright lights during this time. If you require emergency surgery, have the surgeon get in touch with your Visudyne photodynamic therapy surgeon.
Usually multiple treatments are need to destroy the abnormal blood vessels. Follow up with your doctor is extremely important.
For more information or to schedule an appointment please contact us at 315 464-5252.