Nanosecond Laser Treatment for Dry Macular Degeneration

A new nanosecond laser treatment for dry macular degeneration is being tested at the Australian Centre for Eye Research.  It is hoped this new treatment will slow or reverse the effects of dry macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of vision loss in the aging population.

In a previous trial of 50 patients, it was shown that this new technique may be effective at slowing the eye disease that affects the central vision of those diagnosed with the condition.

The exact cause of dry macular degeneration is unknown, but it is known that drusen deposits build up in the layers between the retina and its blood supply.  This in effect lessens the eyes waste removal system, causing the gradual loss of central vision while leaving peripheral vision intact.  As dry macular degeneration progresses, it usually results in the retinal pigment epithelium cells dying or the formation of abnormal blood vessels forming and subsequently leaking and is usually known as wet macular degeneration at this point.  This can result in the rapid loss of central vision.

With nanosecond laser treatment, the laser delivers energy bursts in nanoseconds rather than in microseconds with the older laser treatments.  This does not cause the eye tissue to heat up and appears to have less adverse effect on surrounding eye tissue.  This appears to reverse the build up of drusen deposits.

While it is not exactly understood how this new laser treatment for macular degeneration works, it is suspected that it either encourages cells to get  rid of that waste material to do a better job or results in making cells divide more efficiently or somehow improving their health.

This new treatment may provide hope from those diagnosed with dry macular degeneration, the variation of this eye disease that previously had no treatment.