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Treatment with Visudyne

Visudyne therapy is approved to stop leaking from blood vessels in eyes that is caused by AMD (a condition affecting the retina of the eye which can impair vision). The sooner you begin therapy, the better your chances of retaining more of your vision.

Wet AMD is a serious eye disease that, if left untreated, can quickly cause severe vision loss. Visudyne is a drug therapy that can slow the progression of wet AMD and may help you maintain your vision. Be sure to follow all of your doctor’s instructions, as well as all recommended safety precautions.


How Visudyne therapy works

Visudyne, also known as verteporfin for injection, is a light-activated, or photodynamic, drug that is injected into the bloodstream and travels to the abnormal vessels. It is then activated by a low-energy laser, which produces a reaction that damages and closes abnormal vessels. Multiple courses of therapy are often necessary because the abnormal blood vessels may not be fully closed off and leakage may recur. Despite the need for multiple treatments, stoppage of leakage and stability of visual function are achieved in many patients. Individual results may vary. Visudyne therapy may be repeated at 3-month intervals if necessary.

Visudyne is administered through an infusion into the patient’s arm. The drug then circulates throughout the body; the abnormal vessels in the patient’s eye attract and absorb the drug.

A low-energy laser is directed into the back of the eye at the abnormal vessels, activating the drug. The activated drug closes these abnormal vessels, most of which are thereby destroyed or sealed in such a way that they no longer leak.


Before you have Visudyne therapy

Visudyne therapy causes your skin and eyes to become temporarily sensitive to light. Bring these items with you on the day of your Visudyne treatment appointment:

  • Dark sunglasses
  • A wide-brimmed hat
  • Gloves
  • Long pants
  • A tight-weave, light-colored, long-sleeved shirt
  • Socks and shoes

You should also make arrangements for someone to drive you home after your treatment.


During your treatment

  1. You will receive an intravenous infusion of Visudyne, usually in your arm, which should take about 10 minutes.

  2. At the end of the infusion, your doctor will numb your eye with eye drops.

  3. Fifteen minutes after the infusion begins, the doctor will place a special contact lens on your eye. A laser is then directed through the contact lens onto the affected area of the retina and applied for 83 seconds.

  4. The laser activates the drug within the abnormal blood vessels to close the blood vessels and stop the leakage.

After you have Visudyne therapy

Your skin will be sensitive to bright light and direct sunlight for 5 days after you have Visudyne therapy. After 5 days, you may resume normal outdoor activities without any special precautions.

  • DO:
    • Wear a wristband to remind yourself of your sensitivity
    • Expose your skin to normal (fluorescent or incandescent) indoor light (this helps to inactivate the drug that may be present in your skin)
    • Wait until sundown for outdoor activities if possible
    • Be sure to wear protective clothing and sunglasses if you do go out during daylight hours in the first 5 days following therapy
  • DON'T:
    • Stay in the dark indoors (normal indoor light helps to remove the drug from your skin)
    • Visit your dentist or have surgery (lighting used in dentists’ offices or surgical operating rooms can be dangerous as the drug may remain in your skin for several days)
    • Go to tanning salons
    • Use a pulse oxygen monitor
  • AVOID:
    • Surgical procedures unless instructed by your doctor
    • Unprotected skin and eye exposure to direct sunlight, skylights, undraped windows, and bright indoor light such as halogen lighting for the first 5 days after your treatment (wear protective clothing and sunglasses if you cannot avoid these situations; UV sunscreens are not effective in protecting against photosensitivity reactions)
    • Driving or operating machinery if you develop visual disturbances such as blurred vision and other visual abnormalities

Be sure to follow all of your doctor’s instructions.

What to expect at follow-up

  • Pictures will be taken of your eyes to show if any leakage is present
  • Visudyne (verteporfin for injection) therapy usually consists of a series of sessions. If the pictures show that there is more leakage, additional therapy will be necessary

What can you do about vision you’ve already lost?

  • Visit your eye care professional on a regular basis to explore all of your treatment options
  • Ask your eye care professional about low vision services and devices that may help you make the most of your remaining vision. Ask for a referral to a specialist in low vision
  • Many organizations offer information about low vision counseling, training, and other special services.

Re-treatment with Visudyne therapy

More than one treatment with Visudyne may be necessary to fully address the issues of wet AMD. In clinical studies, the need for re-treatment steadily declined over time. Please note that the efficacy and safety of Visudyne in clinical studies have not been demonstrated beyond 2 years.

Indications


Visudyne (verteporfin for injection) is used along with laser light treatment to stop leaking from blood vessels in the eye due to the following serious eye conditions: age-related macular degeneration (a condition affecting the retina of the eye which can impair vision), pathologic myopia (extreme nearsightedness) or ocular histoplasmosis (a certain type of fungus infection in the eye).

Important Safety Information

  • Visudyne (verteporfin for injection) should not be used if you have a condition known as porphyria, or if you are allergic to it or any of its components.
  • Avoid exposure of skin and eyes to direct sunlight or bright indoor light for 5 days after treatment with Visudyne by wearing protective clothes and dark sunglasses. A UV sunscreen will not offer enough protection for your skin. Wear a wristband to remind you to do this. However, do not stay in totally dark areas.  You should expose your skin to regular indoor and/or indirect light because doing so will help inactivate the drug in your skin. 
  • In clinical studies, the most common side effects were injection site reactions (such as pain, redness, irritation, and swelling) or changes in vision (including blurred vision and flashes of light).  Tell your doctor about any side effects that you may have. 
  • Do not drive or use machines if you develop or have changes in vision.

​Please see complete Prescribing Information for Visudyne (192.8 KB, PDF).

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA.  Visit www.FDA.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Visudyne (verteporfin for injection): Additional information



Visudyne is a trademark of Novartis AG used under license.

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