Treatment of CNVM may vary depending on the underlying disease. Treatment for CNVM includes anti-VEGF treatment, thermal laser treatment or photodynamic therapy (PDT). Depending on the progress of your disease, you may receive with one or more of these treatments.
A common way to treat CNVM targets a specific chemical in your body that causes abnormal blood vessels to grow under the retina. That chemical is called vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF. Several new drug treatments (called anti-VEGF drugs) have been developed that can block the trouble-causing VEGF. Blocking VEGF reduces the growth of CNVM, slows their leakage, helps to slow vision loss and in some cases improves vision.
Your ophthalmologist administers the anti-VEGF drug directly to your eye in an outpatient procedure. Before the procedure, your ophthalmologist will clean your eye to prevent infection and will use an anesthetic to numb your eye with a very fine needle. You may receive multiple anti-VEGF injections over the course of many months. Repeat anti-VEGF treatments are often needed for continued benefit.
Thermal laser treatment
Another form of treatment for CNVM is with thermal laser therapy. Laser treatment is usually done as an outpatient procedure in the doctor’s office or at the hospital.
The laser beam in this procedure is a high-energy, focused beam of light that produces a small burn when it hits the area of the retina to be treated. This destroys the abnormal blood vessels, preventing further leakage, bleeding and growth.
Following laser treatment, vision may be more blurred than before treatment, but often it will stabilize within a few weeks. A scar forms where the treatment occurred, creating a permanent blind spot that might be noticeable in your field of vision.
Usually the abnormal blood vessels are destroyed by laser treatment. However, patients who receive this laser procedure often need a re-treatment within three to five years.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses a combination of a light-activated drug called a photosensitizer and a special low-power, or cool, laser to target the CNVM. This procedure is done on an outpatient basis, usually in an ophthalmologist’s office. The photosensitive drug is injected into a vein in your arm, where it travels through the body, including the abnormal vessels. The low-power laser light is targeted directly on the abnormal vessels, activating the drug, which causes damage specifically to those unwanted blood vessels.
After PDT, the abnormal blood vessels may reopen, so multiple treatments may be required.
Treating CNVM can help stabilize your vision and prevent further vision loss. However, in many patients it is not possible to regain lost vision. In such cases, it is important to learn how to make the most of your remaining vision.