Visudyne Photodynamic Therapy and AMD
- What is Visudyne Photodynamic therapy?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Visudyne Photodynamic therapy for treatment of patients who have an aggressive form of wet age related macular degeneration (AMD) called predominantly classic subfoveal choroidal neovascularization (CNV).
- What is wet AMD?
Wet AMD destroys central vision, which is necessary for reading, driving and the recognition of faces. It is caused by the growth of abnormal, leaky blood vessels in the eye, beneath the center of the retina. These vessels leak fluid and eventually cause scar tissue, destroying central vision. Vision loss can progress in wet AMD patients in as little as two months to three years.
- How does Visudyne therapy work?
Visudyne therapy is a two-step procedure that can be performed in a doctor's office. First, Visudyne, a light-sensitive drug, is injected intravenously into a patient's arm. Visudyne is taken up by the abnormal blood vessels in the eye. Second, the drug is activated by shining a non-thermal, or "cold" laser in the patient's eye.
- How many people are affected by AMD?
Medical experts estimate that 25 to 30 million people worldwide are affected by AMD. In addition, 200,000 people in North America and more than 500,000 people worldwide develop wet AMD each year. AMD is the leading cause of legal blindness in people over the age of 50.
- Can Visudyne therapy restore lost vision?
Visudyne therapy cannot restore vision lost to AMD, but it confines the retinal damage and slows the progression of the disease.
- Doesn't the laser damage the eye?
No. Since a non-thermal or "cold" laser is used in Visudyne therapy, normal, healthy cells and tissue are not damaged, only abnormal blood vessels. This is critical, as past treatments have been unsuccessful in slowing the disease and have resulted in the destruction of normal blood vessels, causing immediate vision loss.
- What data supports Visudyne therapy's efficacy?
A clinical study published in the October 1999 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology showed that in 243 patients with predominantly classic CNV, Visudyne therapy stabilized or improved the vision of 67 percent of those receiving the treatment.
- Are there any other clinical trials planned for Visudyne therapy?
Additional clinical trials are being conducted to determine the effectiveness of Visudyne therapy in patients with an earlier stage of AMD, as well as in patients with a similar but distinct condition associated with progressive near-sightedness known as pathologic myopia. Full results from these trials are expected in the second quarter of 2000.
- Who makes Visudyne therapy?
Visudyne therapy is being co-developed for ocular conditions by CIBA Vision Corporation, the eye care unit of Novartis AG, and QLT PhotoTherapeutics, Inc. CIBA Vision will market the product worldwide and QLT will be responsible for manufacturing the product.
Is there a web site where I can learn more about Visudyne therapy?
Yes, it is located on the Internet at
Photodynamic Therapy for Macular Degeneration
Visudyne Photodynamic Therapy Case Study
Archives of Ophthalmology
FDA Press Release: Approves
Visudyne Photodynamic Therapy
Southeastern Eye Center
Central Carolina Surgical Eye Associates, P.A.
3312 Battleground Ave.
Greensboro, NC 27410
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