Anti-VEGF Treatments Can Dry Unwanted Retinal Fluid
Characterised by the growth of abnormal, leaky blood vessels in the retina, wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) is a chronic, degenerative condition that needs long-term management to improve or preserve vision. Talk to your eye doctor to understand the treatment option that is best for you and help your doctor control the progression of your condition.
Treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration:
The most commonly prescribed treatments for wet AMD can slow the progression of the disease, help protect your vision, and even help regain a portion of the vision you may have lost 1. These treatments address a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is believed to create the leaky, abnormal blood cells that cause fluid to accumulate in the retinas of people with wet macular degeneration 2. Known as an “anti-VEGF treatments,” they seek to prevent formation of the new abnormal blood vessels, allowing the eye to be fluid-free to a more normal state 3.
Anti-VEGF treatment is injected through the white part of the eye. While that might sound scary, the eye is numbed before the injection is given, and many patients say the worry is worse than the procedure 4
The anti-VEGF injections have proven effective in preventing the formation of new leaky blood vessels and preventing more fluid from collecting in the retina, as fluid can lead to further loss of vision.
Managing disease progression
Every patient responds differently to anti-VEGF treatment. The frequency of injections will be determined by your eye doctor, based on the progression of your vision and presence or absence of retinal fluid.5 While the frequency of injections may change over time, wet AMD patients and caregivers should expect ongoing treatment over the long-term, given the chronic, degenerative nature of this disease.5
Here’s what to expect at the doctor’s office. Your care team will:
- Clean your eye and the area around it, using a tool to gently hold the eye open
- Administer eye drops to numb your eye before the injection
- Give the injection through the white part of your eye. You may feel some pressure.
- Tell you how to care for your eyes for the period right after treatment
Preparing For Your Treatment Day
Some patients have found the following techniques help them remain calm for appointments:
- Listen to music before an injection
- Practice breathing exercises and relaxation techniques6.
- One good option is known as “equal breathing”: breathing in through the nose for a count of five, then breathing out for the same count of five, repeating several times.
- If possible, schedule the appointment for early in the day, so there is less time to stress
- Ask the eye care professional if there are certain activities to avoid after treatment
- Make sure to have someone to take you home from the doctor’s office
Recovering From Treatment
After a treatment, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Expect to rest your eyes for at least a few hours
- Make sure to follow any instructions from your eye doctor, including which post-injection symptoms should be reported immediately
- Continue to use any eye drops, if prescribed for you.
National Eye Institute. Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Available at https://nei.nih.gov/eyedata/amd (link is external). Accessed November 2018.
Qazi Y, et al. Mediators of ocular angiogenesis. J. Genet. 2009;88(4):495-515.
Kim R. Introduction, mechanism of action and rationale for anti-vascular endothelial growth factor drugs in age-related macular degeneration. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2007;55(6):413-415.
Chua PYS et al. Evaluating Patient Discomfort, Anxiety, and Fear Before and After Ranibizumab Intravitreous Injection for Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Arch Ophthalmol. 2009;127(7):936–945
Wykoff CC et al. Optimizing Anti-VEGF Treatment Outcomes for Patients with Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy. 2018; 24(2-a Suppl):S3-S15.
Lin IM et al. Breathing at a rate of 5.5 breaths per minute with equal inhalation-to-exhalation ratio increases heart rate variability. International Journal of Psychophysiology. 2014;91(3):206-211.