Understanding anti-VEGF injection treatments for wet AMD

What are anti-VEGF injection treatments?
How do injection treatments work?
Are anti-VEGF injections a proven treatment for wet AMD?

 

What are anti-VEGF injection treatments?

Anti-VEGF injections into the eye are the most recent and most successful treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Anti-VEGF injections work by blocking VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) a protein that stimulates formation of new blood vessels. This means that the anti-VEGF injections inhibit the growth of abnormal new blood vessels.

Anti-VEGF injection treatments can help to slow the visual loss and in some cases may improve sight.

The anti-VEGF injection treatments in current use are Lucentis, Avastin and Eylea.

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How do Lucentis, Avastin and Eylea work?

Lucentis is a new anti-VEGF injection treatment for the management of wet AMD. It acts as an antibody, both preventing the growth of abnormal blood vessels beneath the retina and stopping fluid leakage. This can protect the central macular area of the retina from permanent damage.

Lucentis has undergone formal clinical trials, in which it produced spectacularly good results. It has now been approved for use by some regulatory bodies in the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom.

Avastin is another treatment for the wet form of age-related macular degeneration, designed to block abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage. Unlike Lucentis, Avastin has not yet undergone formal clinical trials.

Eylea works in a slightly different way, trapping VEGF and protecting the macula from its damaging effects. The drug has been extensively trialled with the potential advantage of subjects requiring less frequent injections.

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Are anti-VEGF injections a proven treatment for wet AMD?

Extensive clinical testing on Lucentis and Eylea has established the effectiveness of anti-VEGF injections as an exciting and effective treatment for wet AMD.

Although there has been no clinical trial of Avastin in wet AMD, there are now many research reports and papers supporting its use. Avastin is closely related to Lucentis, which has produced such spectacular results in formal clinical trials and has been approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for routine use.

The initial trial required Lucentis to be given at monthly intervals for two years, (totalling twenty-four injections) although more recent studies have suggested that following three injections at monthly intervals, it may be given on a “need to treat” basis. For the average patient, this is likely to mean around fourteen injections over two years.

Eylea has been shown to be similarly effective but when used on a regular basis, a planned injection is only required every two months.

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