There has been a lot of excitement in management of retinal diseases, ever since the newer anti-VEGF injections have become available. VEGF is a short form for Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, which is responsible for growth of blood vessels. The anti-VEGF agents block the VEGF molecules and thus benefit the patients by decreasing the abnormal and harmful new blood vessels formation and by decreasing the leakage and swelling of the retina. This leads to stabilization of vision and even improvement in vision in many cases.
As of now, there are three injections available with us for treatment. These are Lucentis, Avastin and Macugen. These injections are given inside the eye. The procedure is a very small one, but is performed inside the operation theatre to maintain the strict asepsis. Because there is 0.1% risk of developing serious infection in the eye (endophtalmitis), so every precaution istaken to avoid any infective risk. The second complication that is sometimes seen is high pressure in the eye. But this is usually transient side effect. The patient is discharged within 10-15 minutes of the procedure, and can resume his/her normal activities immediately.
Avastin/Altuzan (Bevacizumab) is anti VEGF agent was initially designed for use in colorectal cancer and is the parent molecule of Lucentis. Prior to Lucentis being licensed in the countries a large number of patients were injected with Avastin to good effect and no obvious side effects. However, it is the the Lucentis molecule which has been specifically designed for use in the eye. Though Avastin lacks formal development for eye treatment, in clinical practice almost the similar results are taken with Lucentis. Avastin is currently so much cheaper that it may be considered as an alternative for those patients who can not afford Lucentis.