Avastin, Lucentis and Eylea Injections
Treatment of wet macular degeneration has greatly improved with the use of Anti-VEGF medications like Lucentis and Avastin. Up until about 2005, the only treatment for wet macular degeneration was to use a laser to stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels. This treatment is called Laser Photocoagulation. The downside to this treatment is that it leaves scar tissue and does not help patients recover any lost vision.
Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) is a chemical thought to cause the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina. Anti-VEGF medications halt abnormal blood vessel growth. Lucentis (ranibizumab) and Avastin (bevacizumab) are two Anti-VEGF medications were first tested in 2004 and have been the standard for treatment of wet macular degeneration. These medications are injected into the eye at regular intervals (usually monthly) as needed to treat the disease. There are other eye conditions that cause loss of vision due to abnormal growth of blood vessels under the retina. These conditions may include: diabetic macular edema (DME), central vein occlusion (CVO), branch vein occlusion (BVO), high myopia (nearsightedness), histoplasmosis, angioid streaks and eye injury.
Avastin is not currently FDA-approved for ophthalmic use. It is therefore used "off label." Ophthalmologists have used Avastin safely for several years. Avastin's original function was to treat metastic colorectal cancer. However, patients with wet macular degeneration who were on Avastin therapy for colorectal cancer had improvements in their eye disease.
Lucentis was approved for ophthalmic use by the FDA in 2006. Lucentis has smaller molecules than Avastin; it is argued that Lucentis may be more beneficial than Avastin.
Eylea is the newest anti-VEGF medication available.
- The pupil is dilated.
- The eye is numbed with anesthetic eye drops.
- Betadine drops are used to prevent infection.
- An eyelid speculum is used to hold your eye open.
- The placement for the injection is marked.
- The medication is injected into the vitreous, a jelly-like substance in the back chamber of the eye.