Verteporfin is a photosensitizing medication a doctor can use as part of a laser therapy treatment to address abnormal blood vessels in the eye. When a laser of certain wavelength is trained on the eye, the verteporfin in the patient's blood will trigger an oxidating reaction, closing up leaking blood vessels. This therapy is available for management of several ocular conditions, including wet age-related macular degeneration and malignant myopia. The procedure is usually overseen by an ophthalmologist.
Treatment starts with an injection of verteporfin around 10 minutes before the surgery begins. This gives the medication time to circulate. The surgeon will position the patient on a table and aim a laser carefully at the eye to activate the medication. If both eyes need to be treated, the doctor will treat one eye and then the other. When the medication oxidizes, it damages the vessel walls, causing them to shrink and close off.
After taking this medication, a patient's sensitivity to light will increase for several days. It is usually a good idea to wear sunglasses to protect the eyes, as they will be vulnerable to damage. The patient will need to wear sunscreen or loose garments to prevent sunburns. Patients may develop rashes, nausea, and vomiting after a verteporfin injection. If these symptoms persist or grow worse, it is possible the patient may have an allergy to the drug.
Immediately after treatment with verteporfin and laser therapy, the patient's vision will usually be blurry and distorted. The vision should clear over the days following the procedure. If the patient develops headaches, worsening vision, or dizziness, the patient should discuss the situation with a doctor. The doctor will usually request a follow-up appointment around 30 days after the procedure to see if it was effective. This appointment includes a patient interview and eye examination to see how well the patient can see and to identify any problems with the eye.
Patients may undergo several sessions of light therapy. In people who have had a bad reaction to verteporfin previously, the surgeon may have to consider other treatment options to address the malignant blood vessels in the eye. For patients with degenerative eye conditions, it is important to remain alert to any changes and discuss them with a doctor as soon as possible. Changes can be a sign of complications or problems with a condition, and the more quickly the patient receives treatment, the better the chances of a good outcome.