Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that can blur the center of your vision. Wet AMD, or advanced neovascular AMD, is a serious type of AMD that happens when a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) makes too many blood vessels grow in the back of your eye. These blood vessels can damage a part of your eye called the macula, leading to central vision loss. 

There are 2 treatment options that can slow down or stop vision loss from wet AMD: 

  • Anti-VEGF injections 
  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT) 

If you have vision loss from wet AMD, ask your eye doctor if either of these treatments could help you. 

What are anti-VEGF injections?

The most common treatment doctors use to slow vision loss from wet AMD is called anti-VEGF injections. These medicines help stop bleeding and leaking from blood vessels in the back of your eye.  

When you get this treatment, your doctor will: 

  • Put numbing medicine in your eye so you won’t feel pain from the injection 
  • Clean your eye to keep it from getting infected 
  • Give a shot of the anti-VEGF medicine into your eye with a very small needle 

After the treatment, you may need to use antibiotic eye drops to keep your eyes from getting an infection.  

Anti-VEGF injections usually only work for a short time, so most people need to get them many times. At first, most people need injections once a month. After that, your doctor will tell you how often you need injections to help stop vision loss from AMD. 

What is photodynamic therapy (PDT)?

Doctors can use a special laser treatment called photodynamic therapy (PDT) to help break down the extra blood vessels in the back of your eye. Doctors usually use PDT as a second treatment along with anti-VEGF injections. 

PDT works by using a light-sensitive medicine called verteporfin that “turns on” when hit by a specific type of laser (sometimes called a cold laser). Your doctor shines the laser on a very small area in the back of your eye, causing the verteporfin to break down the blood vessels that are causing your vision loss. 

When you get this treatment, your doctor will: 

  • Give a shot of verteporfin into a blood vessel in your arm 

  • Put numbing medicine in your eye so you won’t feel pain during the procedure 

  • Place a special contact lens on your eye to help guide the laser during the treatment 

  • Shine the cold laser onto the extra blood vessels in the back of your eye 

PDT usually works for a long time, but some people will need repeat treatments. Talk to your doctor to find out if you will need more treatments to help stop vision loss from AMD.  

Last updated: July 1, 2019