Wet macular degeneration cannot be cured. Treatments are aimed at controlling the disease and reducing damage to the macula. This is analogous to the treatment for high blood pressure or diabetes. When you start treatments for macular degeneration, you are embarking on a long-term program of therapies.
About one in ten patients will not respond to anti-VEGF treatment. Of the remainder, about a half will see improvement in vision, while the other half will achieve stable vision.
Treating Wet Macular Degeneration
VEGF is the substance produced in the macula that causes the new blood vessels to grow. Anti-VEGF medications block the effect of this substance. They are given as an injection into the eye cavity. This achieves the maximum concentration of the drug where it is needed most. There are three anti-VEGF medications available.
Lucentis and Eylea are used when the new vessels affect the centre of the macula. These drugs are supported by Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). When the new vessels do not involve the centre of the macula, Avastin is used.
The diagnosis of the new vessels needs to be confirmed by fluorescein angiography before treatment can begin. The injections are initially given every 4 weeks and the response is monitored by OCT scan. When the new vessels have been stabilised, the injections can be given less frequently, but some maintenance treatment will be needed indefinitely.
Injection into the eye is a serious treatment. If the vision blurs significantly or the eye becomes red and painful, call the emergency number immediately.
Anti-VEGF injections are given under local anaesthesia.
The injection is usually painless, but occasionally brief discomfort is felt if the needle passes near a nerve
The eye needs to be sterilized carefully with antiseptics to minimize risk of infection.
Rarely, the eye can become very uncomfortable hours after injection due to the burning effects of antiseptics.
Risk of injection into the eye include infection, bleeding and retinal detachment.