Anti-VEGF medicines for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

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Anti-VEGF medicines for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
bevacizumabAvastin
pegaptanibMacugen
ranibizumabLucentis

These medicines are injected into the eye by your doctor. Before the injection, your doctor will numb the eye with eye drops.

How It Works

When wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) develops, weak abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and lead to vision loss. The growth of these vessels is triggered by a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Anti-VEGF medicines block the effects of VEGF. Blocking this protein slows the growth of the abnormal blood vessels. This slows the vision loss linked to wet AMD.

Why It Is Used

Anti-VEGF medicines are used to slow the vision loss caused by wet AMD. These medicines slow the growth of abnormal blood vessels that leads to wet AMD.

How Well It Works

Anti-VEGF medicines can slow the vision loss that is linked to wet AMD.1 They may also improve vision for people with wet AMD.2 Because these medicines are relatively new, long-term effects are not yet known.

Side Effects

The common side effects of bevacizumab, pegaptanib, or ranibizumab injections include:

  • Changes in vision, or trouble seeing.
  • Inflammation of different parts of the eye.
  • Bleeding.
  • Eye discharge.
  • Eye pain or discomfort.
  • Increased pressure inside the eye.
  • Increased sensitivity to light.
  • Headache.
  • Painful urination.

Ranibizumab (Lucentis) may raise the risk of stroke in elderly people, especially if they have already had a stroke.

Many side effects may be caused by the actual injection procedure rather than the drug itself. For example, the injections have a risk of infection.

Long-term effects of these medicines are not yet known.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

You will likely get the injections on a regular basis, such as once a month.

Other types of anti-VEGF drugs are currently being studied, including some that may be injected into a vein (intravenously) rather than into the eye.

Anti-VEGF medicines may help stop vision loss in people who cannot benefit from other treatments such as laser photocoagulation or photodynamic therapy.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Drugs for some common eye disorders (2007). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 5(53): 4–5.
  2. Rosenfeld PJ, et al. (2006). Ranibizumab for neovascular age-related macular degeneration. New England Journal of Medicine, 355(14): 1419–1431.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Last Revised December 8, 2009

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