Laser Therapy for Macular Degeneration

Laser Therapy for Macular Degeneration

Posted on Apr.09, 2014, under Educational, Eye Health, Living With Low Vision, Low Vision Info

Laser therapy was first used as a treatment for wet macular degeneration.  The type of laser used is called a thermal laser.   It uses an intense beam of light that actually burns the leaking blood vessels under the macula.  The burning helps to seal the blood vessels so that there is less fluid buildup under the center of the retina.  The goal of the treatment is to delay further loss of one’s straight ahead vision.   However, the recurrence of these leaky blood vessels in more than half the patients, makes this treatment temporary.  With the use of this type of thermal laser therapy, there is actually some damage to the macula, the portion of the retina responsible for our detailed and central vision, resulting in loss of vision due to the laser treatment.   Because very few patients are candidates for this type of wet AMD treatment and because there are now better ways of treating AMD with less risk, this type of laser treatment is not very common.

However, thanks to new research and to the development of new technology, laser treatment for macular degeneration may change how early AMD is treated.  Ellex Medical Lasers Limited has spent over 10 years developing Ellex Retinal Rejuvenation Therapy ( Ellex 2RT).  The treatment with this laser is different in several ways.

1.  First it is a non-thermal laser that does not use heat to treat retinal diseases. Instead it uses short pulses of low level or nanosecond laser energy that “stimulates a natural, biological healing response in the eye to treat a range of degenerative retinal diseases” according to the Ellex website.

2.  It is used to treat early dry macular degeneration, rather than wet or choroidal macular degeneration

Early AMD accounts for the vast majority of those with macular degeneration – in fact close to 80%.  However, most current treatments that are available are for wet AMD.

The 2RT therapy is being used in a clinical trial at the Center for Eye Research in Australia. Participants will be randomized to receive either the 2RT laser or a sham laser. The purpose of the study is “ to determine whether 2RT nanosecond laser therapy slows the progression to advanced age-related macular degeneration.“

Professor Robyn Guymer, the lead 2RT principal investigator states, “Our research shows that application of 2RT treatment is safe and painless, and results in both improved visual function and drusen resolution. This is an extremely positive result. To date there has been no proven intervention in early AMD that significantly halts or causes regression of the disease process.”

For more information on early macular degeneration go to :

Early Macular Degeneration


Leslie Degner, RN, BSN