Photodynamic Therapy for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Occasionally, NYU Langone physicians may offer a procedure called photodynamic therapy in addition to injections for wet macular degeneration. It’s most often used in people with new blood vessel growth underneath the retina.

In photodynamic therapy, your doctor injects a photoactive, or light sensitive, medication into an arm. As it passes through the blood vessels in the retina, the doctor shines a laser beam into the eye. The laser light activates the medication, causing a chemical reaction that destroys abnormal blood vessels.

Photodynamic therapy causes very little discomfort and is done on an outpatient basis. The therapy may cause increased sensitivity to sunlight, so doctors may recommend wearing protective clothing and sunglasses for a few days afterward.

Because intravitreal injections—in which medication is injected into the eye—are often an effective treatment for wet macular degeneration, photodynamic therapy is being used much less often than it used to be.

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