Anti-VEGF Therapy for Macular Degeneration
If you have been given this information sheet you, or someone close to you, has been diagnosed with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Wet AMD is the most common cause of progressive, irreversible, and severe vision loss in people over age 50, and anti-VEGF therapy is it’s newest and most effective-ever treatment.
In wet AMD a naturally occurring biological substance called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is produced in excess within the eye and stimulates the development and growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula area of the retina. These abnormal blood vessels leak fluid and blood, and lead to permanent scarring of the macula and thus progressive and irreversible vision loss. Anti-VEGF drugs (Lucentis, Eylea and Avastin) decrease the excessive VEGF within the eye and thus suppress the growth of the abnormal blood vessels and limit their progressive damaging effects on vision.
Anti-VEGF therapy is the culmination of more than 30 years of research, is often much more effective than other wet AMD treatments such as laser and surgery, and allows treatment of many patients whose condition may be otherwise untreatable. Clinical trials have shown that additional vision loss can be prevented in 90 percent of eyes with ongoing anti-VEGF therapy, and that up to 30-40 percent of eyes may partially recover vision previously lost. However, anti-VEGF therapy has limitations, burdens and risks that are important to understand.
- Controls but does not cure wet AMD
- Is most effective when wet AMD is diagnosed at an early stage
- Is usually administered monthly, though longer intervals between treatments may be appropriate as the disease comes under control
- May be required for several years or even for life in order to maintain control of the disease and minimize risk of additional vision loss
- Does not always prevent additional vision loss
- Is administered by a direct injection into the eye following adequate anesthesia
- May rarely cause infection in the treated eye
- Has theoretical risks of systemic side effects that have not been confirmed in clinical practice
Wet AMD is a devastating disease that threatens quality of life and may impair independence. Anti-VEGF therapy is a major advance in the treatment of wet AMD.
Retina Consultants of Minnesota is a group practice of fellowship trained Retina Specialists. We specialize exclusively in the treatment of retinal diseases. We are actively involved in research into new treatments and are capable of rapidly bringing newly approved treatments to our patients with retinal diseases.