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Photo-Dynamic Therapy (with Visudyne)

Photo-Dynamic Therapy (with Visudyne) (PDT) is an extremely beneficial therapy for "wet" macular degeneration that destroys the abnormal blood vessels without causing thermal (heat) damage to the overlying sensory retina.  It uses a combination of a photoactive drug (a light-activated drug) and light from a non-thermal laser (a laser that does not burn the retina).  Unlike other macular degeneration treatments, Visudyne therapy may work toward stabilizing vision.  In other words, this treatment may confine and inhibit the progression of "wet" macular degeneration, and thereby preserve patients' vision.

When Visudyne therapy is given, a light-activated drug called Visudyne is injected into your arm.  The drug then travels through the bloodstream and collects in the abnormal vessels that have developed in the retina.  After enough drug has collected in these vessels, a "cold" laser is shone onto the back of the eye to activate it.  Once activated, Visudyne begins a chemical process that causes the abnormal blood vessels to close.  The process works without causing heat that may damage the healthy retinal nearby.

What to expect during PDT

  1. You will receive an infusion of the light-activated drug Visudyne, usually in your arm.  This step will take about 10 minutes.

  2. After the infusion, eye drops will be used to numb your eye.

  3. A special contact lens will be placed on the surface of your eye 15 minutes after the start of the infusion.

  4. A cold laser light will then be directed through the contact lens onto the affected area of the retina.  This step will take about 1 1/2 muini8tes.

  5. The cold laser activates the Visudyne that has accumulated in the abnormal blood vessels in the eye.

What to expect after PDT

After Visudyne therapy, leakage may eventually come back because the abnormal blood vessels are aggressive and tend to re-grow.  For this reason, a full course of Visudyne therapy may continue over several visits.  Typically, it's given every three months if leakage can be seen on the fluorescein angiogram.  In clinical studies, patients averaged between 3 and 4 treatments in the first year, 2 in the second, and 1 in the third year. 

Also, Visudyne therapy causes your skin and eyes to become sensitive to bright light and directly sunlight for 5 days.  During this time, you  should wear a wristband to remind yourself and others that you need to avoid the following:

  • Bright sunlight
  • Tanning salons
  • Halogen lighting, including reading lamps
  • Bright lighting in the dentist's office or surgical operating rooms
  • Skylights
  • Undraped windows with direct sunlight

If you must go out in daylight during the first 5 days after therapy, be sure to wear:

  • Dark sunglasses
  • Socks and shoes
  • Gloves
  • Tightly knit, light-colored fabrics
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • A tight-wave, long sleeved shirt and long pants

To learn more about Visudyne, please visit www.visudyne.com.


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