Wet Macular Degeneration Treatment Update

In 2004 a new class of drugs used to treat macular degeneration became FDA approved. This class of drugs is called anti-VEGF. VEGF stands for vascular endothelial growth factor and anti of course means to halt or stop.

The mechanism of these drugs is to halt, stop or delay the progression of fragile and abnormal tiny blood vessels that develop under the macula. Instead of being useful blood vessels that bring oxygen and nourishment to the macula or help to remove waste products, these blood vessels are useless and in fact are harmful. The walls of the blood vessels are not normal - but rather very fragile. As a result blood and fluid leak from them.

Wet Macular Degeneration Symptoms

The build up of fluid raises the macula which needs to lie flat. When the macula is raised, a person experiences a distortion in their vision, such as straight lines appearing wavy or bent.

The fluid also damages the surrounding photoreceptor cells. With damaged photoreceptor cells, there is diminished vision. One's vision appears blurry rather than sharp, colors are not as distinct, and there is a need for more light to see.

Anti-VEGF Therapy

Anti-VEGF therapy interferes with the growth of these new blood vessels and has been shown in clinical trials to help maintain ones vision and in some patients help to improve their vision.

The first medication that was approved as an eye injection was Macugen. Since 2004 Lucentis and Avastin, two other anti-VEGF medications have been used to treat wet AMD and in November 2011 Eylea was FDA approved.

Learn more about how these medications work, what improvements one might expect, and possible side effects of anti-VEGF therapy:

Wet Macular Degeneration Treatment

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Leslie Degner, RN, BSN

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