“VEGF” stands for “Vascular endothelial Growth Factor”. Anti-VEGF medications stop this hormone from working in the eye. In wet age-related macular degeneration (‘wet AMD’), an abnormal blood vessel grows underneath the macula leading to swelling, bleeding, and ultimately scarring. VEGF acts like a ‘fertiliser’ to promote growth and leakage of these vessels. VEGF also contributes to swelling of the macula and growth of abnormal blood vessels in other conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusions.
Worldwide studies show that anti-VEGF treatment has excellent rates of stabilising vision. It also has about a 35% chance of improving vision significantly. The drug is injected into the eye with a fine needle.
Principles of Treatment:
The aim is to dry all the fluid at the macula. Best vision is achieved when this occurs.
Induction Course: Involves 3 injections given at monthly intervals.
Maintenance Treatment: Once the macula is dry, repeated treatment is needed at various intervals to sustain the effect. Without treatment, there is a significant risk of the fluid returning leading to further loss of vision. The interval required for maintenance therapy varies from one patient to the next depending on the response to treatment – typically anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks.
How long do we treat for?
At present, long term treatment is generally required.
A variety of new drugs and treatments are in development with the aim of reducing the need for treatment.
If vision is poor or your eye is not responding to the medication, your doctor may discuss the option of ceasing treatment.