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New Ophthalmology Drug Approved for Macular Degeneration

Posted by floriza in Ophthalmology

The Federal Drug Administration has approved a new ophthalmology drug called Eylea (aflibercept) for the treatment of wet macular degeneration. The drug is also known as VEGF Trap-Eye. Manufactured by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, it serves to soak up certain molecules that tend to cause blood vessels in the retina to grow abnormally, causing the wet form of age-related macular degeneration.

The FDA approved the drug after three studies in which Eylea was administered via injection. The 2-mg. injections were given once per month for three months and once every two months after that for a period of a year. Patients were then evaluated for changes in vision based on testing with a standard eye chart.

In two of the three clinical trials, nearly 2,500 patients were studied. More than 90 percent of the participants completed the study for the period of one year.

The Study Results

The results of the studies showed that Eylea was as effective as another drug frequently used for wet macular degeneration – Lucentis (ranibizumab). Approximately 30 percent of the study participants “gained at least 15 letters in visual acuity.”

Almost ten percent of the patients in the studies suffered high blood pressure, which may or may not have been a side effect of Eylea. Other potential side effects/risks are vascular problems such as non-fatal stroke or heart attack.

According to the FDA, people who have ocular or periocular infections or active intraocular inflammation should not take Eylea.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that can destroy the vision over time. There is wet macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration.

Wet age-related macular degeneration is a result of the growth of abnormal blood vessels behind the retina of the eye. They can leak blood and fluid, which, in turn, raises and damages the macula of the eye. The macula is light-sensitive and is located behind the retina in the center.

This process can happen fast, causing a loss of vision in the center of the eye. Straight lines begin to appear wavy in the beginnings of wet AMD.

Dry age-related macular degeneration occurs as a result of a breakdown of the cells of the macula, causing a blurring in the vision in the center of the eye. This blurring can increase over time. Both eyes are generally affected, but not always.

Physicians who practice ophthalmology in New Jersey, New York, and other states can evaluate whether or not you have wet or dry macular degeneration. Anyone with changes in their vision should seek the assistance of an ophthalmologist.


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