Laser Photocoagulation for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Laser Photocoagulation for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Surgery Overview

The main treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) is injections of medicines into the eye. But in some cases, doctors recommend laser surgery.

Retinal laser photocoagulation is a type of laser surgery that uses an intense beam of light to burn small areas of the retina. The burns form scar tissue that seals the blood vessels. By sealing the leaky blood vessels, laser photocoagulation slows down central vision loss.

Laser surgery may be done in a doctor's office or eye clinic using a local anesthetic that affects only the eye area. The surgery itself is painless.

What To Expect

Laser photocoagulation does not involve a hospital stay. You will need someone to pick you up at the doctor's office or clinic. Your pupils will be widened (dilated) for the surgery. And they will remain dilated for several hours. Wear sunglasses to keep bright light out of your eyes while they are dilated.

Your vision may be blurry. And your eye may hurt a little for a day or two after the surgery.

Why It Is Done

Most of the time the treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) is anti-VEGF medicines that are injected into the eye. Laser treatment is not usually recommended. But for certain cases of wet AMD, laser photocoagulation may be recommended.

How Well It Works

Laser surgery will not restore vision that has already been lost because of macular degeneration. But it can sometimes slow down or delay further damage to a person's central vision. Even repeated treatment is not usually effective over the long term in preventing some loss of central vision.

Risks

The most serious drawback to laser surgery is that the laser may damage some of the nerve cells in the macula. This causes some vision loss.

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