Lucentis (ranibizumab) or Avastin (bevacizumab) or Eylea (aflibercept), are anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drugs, which have shown significant success in treating age related macular degeneration. These drugs are useful in the wet form of macular degeneration and they act by inhibiting the growth of abnormal blood vessels and help prevent leakage of these blood vessels. Current research has found these drugs to be well tolerated as an intravitreal injection. Research so far has shown up to 70% of patients show improvement with this treatment.
Injection of these drugs is performed as an outpatient procedure. Topical and local anesthetic is used and therefore the injection should have minimal pain. Patients are discharged on the same day and may go home with a patch on their eye. This is removed after approximately three hours and antibiotic eye drops are administered four times a day for three days to help prevent infection.
Patients need to be aware that in the first one or two days they may have some ocular irritation from the injection, as well as tearing and redness in the eye. They should notify Insight eye clinic if they notice any persistent pain, signs of infection or severe loss of vision.
Generally the side effects of these drugs are rare but they may include intraocular infection, which can cause loss of vision and requires urgent treatment. Other rare complications include lens damage, retinal detachment and very rarely blood pressure rise, and cardiovascular problems.
Up to 70% of patients notice some improvement after their first injection. Most patients require injection performed monthly for the first three months, often requiring OCT scans to monitor the progression and response to treatment. Following this the interval between treatments may gradually be increased up to two months.
Treatment will be tapered by your Doctor according to the response that is obtained. Some patients have responded very well and only require one or two injections, whereas others have required repeated injections before they are stabilized.