Photothermal Therapy Study for Dry AMD

Photothermal Therapy Study for Dry AMD

Posted under Eye Conditions, Low Vision Info, The Eye

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, FL is collaborating with Stanford University in California to determine if a photothermal laser that is non-damaging to the macula versus a sham laser therapy will benefit patients with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD)  who have high-risk drusen.  The goal of the study is to see if treating macular drusen will improve a patient’s vision and/or reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD disease, either wet AMD or geographic atrophy.

What are Macular Drusen?

Macular drusen are small yellow deposits that can be seen during a retinal exam.  The number, size and type can be indicators of age-related dry macular degeneration.  While the presence of drusen in eyes of patients over 60 can be quite common, if the size of the drusen are determined to be “medium” or “large” and if a patient has several of these yellow deposits, a patient may begin to experience changes in vision.  A blurred spot in the center of one’s vision is one of many symptoms of AMD.  The volume or size of the macular drusen will be evaluated before the laser treatment and then post treatment using a high-resolution spectral domain ocular coherence tomography (SD-OCT) at 12 and 24 months.  Visual acuity will be measured at 12 and 24 months as well.  Patients will be evaluated at 24 months to determine progression of the disease for choroidal neovascularization (wet AMD) or geographic atrophy.

What is Non-Damaging Photothermal Therapy?

Prior treatment using laser therapy to treat macular diseases caused tissue damage and vision loss.  However, newer technology has been developed to prevent harm to healthy cells and layers of the retina while at the same time benefiting the macula by rejuvenating RPE cells and reducing inflammation. According to the article Nondamaging Retinal Laser Therapy: Rationale and Applications to the Macula published by Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, “Several laser techniques have been developed to reduce retinal damage compared to conventional photocoagulation while maintaining therapeutic benefit.” Because tissue is not damaged, patients may benefit from re-treatments to the macula. j ISSN: 1552-5783

This clinical trial is a randomized, double-blind controlled study.  Meaning that some patients will receive the photothermal laser treatment while others will receive a “placebo” or “sham” laser.  Approximately 56 patients are being recruited for this research study who are 60 years old or older.   Both male and female patients with nonexudative AMD (dry AMD) who have a specific drusen volume may be eligible for the clinical trial.

For more information on the study and to see if you meet the study criteria contact Mariana Nunez by emailing her at or by phone at (650)-497-7846.   For more information on this clinical trial visit the website at

Non-Damaging Photothermal Therapy of Non-exudative Age Related Macular Degeneration


Leslie Degner, RN, BSN