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Photodynamic therapy for age-related macular degeneration

Find out how laser treatment can treat this condition, along with the benefits and risks

Macular degeneration is a condition that affects a tiny part of the retina at the back of your eye called the macula. This eye disease can cause central vision problems, including blind spots. Early diagnosis and treatment of AMD is essential to prevent vision loss.   

Although it can develop at an earlier age, macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is extremely common in older people. According to the Macular Society, it affects 1.5 million people in the UK, and is the country’s leading cause of sight loss.    

There are two types of AMD: ‘wet’ and ‘dry’.  

Wet AMD is the more serious type and affects around 10 percent of people with AMD. In wet AMD, the macula becomes damaged and new blood vessels start to grow behind the macula. Wet AMD can cause you to lose central vision in weeks. All people with the wet type had the dry type first.

Dry AMD is the most common type and less serious type. It affects around 90 percent of people with AMD. This type develops gradually when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down. Dry AMD can lead to loss of central vision but it rarely causes complete blindness.   

The main symptoms of AMD include:

  • Blurred vision, shadows or blind spots
  • Straight lines appearing wavy
  • Trouble reading, recognising people’s faces or watching TV
  • Difficulty telling colours apart
  • Slower vision recovery after seeing bright lights

Diagnosing AMD as early as possible is the key to helping slow down its progress. If your eyesight starts to get blurred or suddenly gets worse, you should book an emergency appointment to see your Consultant.

AMD doesn’t always cause symptoms at first so it’s important to get your eyes examined at least once every two years. At BMI Healthcare, our specialist Consultants offer fast diagnosis and will create a bespoke treatment plan based on your individual needs.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is where a light-activated drug is injected into your bloodstream. It is then activated in the eye using a low-energy laser, which should shut down the abnormal blood vessels without damaging the macula.   

PDT is only suitable for certain patterns of damage. It usually involves more than one outpatient appointments for treatment from your Consultant. They might recommend a combined therapy of laser treatment and another AMD treatment, such as eye injections.

PDT is an outpatient procedure, so you should be able to go home the same day. Your eye might need to be covered up with a pad until the next day. Your vision might be blurry for a while after treatment, and your doctor will organise follow-up care to ensure that your eye is healing as it should.

AMD will not improve on its own and can cause sight loss if it is not treated. The risks of AMD treatment should be weighed up against the risk factors of no treatment. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your condition.

Although very rare, the risks and side effects of laser therapy include:

  • Loss of sight;
  • Bleeding;
  • Issues with eye pressure;
  • Infection and
  • Formation of cataracts.

Our 500 trusted eyecare experts offer personalised care at over 40 BMI Healthcare centres across the UK.   

Our experts in affordable eye care offer fast access to treatment in a safe and comfortable environment.   

Your AMD treatment will provide the best possible outcome, along with excellent value for money, to help improve your quality of life.  

What you pay will depend on the exact treatment you need. Your final price will be confirmed in writing following your consultation.
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