– What eye conditions is anti-VEGF treatment used for?
– How is anti-VEGF treatment given?
– What are the complications of anti-VEGF injections?
– How will I be followed up during my treatment?
– How successful is anti-VEGF treatment?
– Further help and support
What eye conditions is anti-VEGF treatment used for?
Currently anti-VEGF treatment is used for the following conditions:
How is anti-VEGF treatment given?
Anti-VEGF treatment is given as an injection into the white of your eye (the sclera). The drug is injected directly into the vitreous, the jelly that fills your eye. This is called an “intravitreal” injection. The procedure is generally very straightforward and quick and isn’t usually painful.
Watch our video
For more information on what it is like to have an anti-VEGF injection, watch our video which features Reg talking about having his anti-VEGF injections.
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What are the complications of anti-VEGF injections?
The risk of complications from anti-VEGF injections is very small. Most of the possible complications come from having an injection into your eye, rather than the anti-VEGF drug itself. For most people, the benefit of having the treatment to protect your sight outweighs the very small risk that comes with the injection.
Common complications due to anti-VEGF injections can include:
Slight ache or pain in the eye lasting a day or two
Temporary floaters - clearing in a week
Bruising on the white of your eye that appears red or bloodshot, but this should clear in a week or two
Eye may feel sore and gritty
Rare complications that may occur from the treatment can include:
Although some of these complications are serious, they can be treated, so permanently losing your sight following an anti-VEGF injection is rare.
How will I be followed up during my treatment?
If you are diagnosed with wet AMD you should receive an initial assessment and your first anti-VEGF injection, if required, within two weeks of referral to the hospital or another eye clinic. Usually, you will start by having a course of three injections, once every four weeks for three months. This is known as a “loading dose”.
How often you need further injections will depend on the type of anti-VEGF drug you are receiving and how well the treatment is working. It’s very common for people to have more injections after the first three.
Macular oedema caused by retinal vein occlusion
Usually, you will start with a loading dose of three anti-VEGF injections, once a month for three months. After this, your ophthalmologist will check how well the treatment is working. It’s quite common for people to have more injections after the first three. Your ophthalmologist may want to see you fairly regularly in the eye clinic for the first six months and then perhaps less so for the next 12 months.
Diabetic macular oedema (DMO)
Anti-VEGF treatment for DMO is given when the amount of fluid or swelling has caused your macula to thicken by a certain amount. Injections are usually given once a month to begin with, and then may continue to be given monthly or may be given every two months. How many injections and how often you might need them will depend on the type of anti-VEGF drug you are receiving and how the DMO responds to treatment.
Myopic choroidal neovascularisation (myopic CNV)
Treatment for myopic CNV usually starts with one anti-VEGF injection. After this you’ll normally be monitored at the eye clinic every month for the first couple of months. You may be given further injections at these visits if your ophthalmologist thinks they are needed. If your condition becomes stable, you may not need further injections, but you’ll still be monitored closely, normally around once every three months for the first year.
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How successful is anti-VEGF treatment?
Anti-VEGF treatments are very successful and give a good chance of preventing further sight loss. In most cases, the aim of treatment is to stabilise vision and prevent it from getting worse. In some cases, treatment can also help to improve vision and reduce distortion.
How much your vision will improve will depend on your individual circumstances. It may not help with any other eye conditions that you have. Generally, the better your level of vision is before starting treatment, the better the outcome is likely to be. You should ask your ophthalmologist what improvement they would expect, as they will be able to consider your individual circumstances and eye condition.
Although anti-VEGF treatment can mean a lot of injections and visits to the hospital, it is a very successful treatment and has significantly improved visual outcomes for these conditions.
Further help and support
It’s completely natural to be concerned if you have an eye condition that requires anti-VEGF treatment. We’re here to support you every step of the way, and to answer any questions you may have – just get in touch with our Sight Loss Advice Service.
The Macular Society can put you in touch with a "treatment buddy" who can support people who are anxious about their injections and offer information and reassurance.
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