Patients who are diagnosed with wet macular degeneration have new options for treatments. Historically laser was the only option for treatment. As the disease progressed we often used lasers to treat the leaking blood vessels. These laser treatments frequently had adverse side effects leaving some patients with permanent dark spots in their vision.
As macular degeneration progresses, new blood vessels may develop in the eye, which can cause scarring and a loss of central vision. To stop the progression of the disease and limit scarring, laser treatments can be applied to stop the growth of new blood vessels. The type of laser treatment used depends on the appearance and behavior of the macula and its surrounding tissue. One new technique, Photodynamic Therapy (PDT), has been successful in treating about 10% of this population.
Like most laser treatments, PDT and other macular degeneration laser treatments are performed on a same day, outpatient basis. Specialized diagnostic testing using fluorescein angiography is conducted in advance to determine the exact location of blood vessels and the amount of scarring taking place. The outcome of this testing determines the type of laser treatment to be used. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) allows us to quantify the amount of fluid and blood that these blood vessels leak into the surrounding retinal cell layers. OCT technology also guides us in the monitoring of these fluid levels as we treat patients.
Experimentation for new treatment techniques for macular degeneration is currently on the rise. We remain in the forefront of research and clinical trials for new techniques in order to provide our patients with state-of-the-art care as it becomes available.