A significant advance has been the development of a new class of drugs now being used to treat wet macular degeneration. The drugs are based on the discovery that a group of proteins in the body, called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), play a significant role in the formation of the abnormal blood vessels that damage the retina in wet macular degeneration. These abnormal blood vessels are called choroidal neovascularization (CNV).
The anti-VEGF drugs are injected directly into the jelly-like substance that fills the back of the eye, which is called the vitreous. Before the injection, drops are used to numb the eye and a speculum may be put in place to hold the eyelids out of the way. While it may seem scary to receive an injection into the eye, most patients find that they experience minimal discomfort. Once inside the eye, the medication diffuses throughout the retina and choroid. It binds strongly to the abnormal VEGF proteins, preventing the proteins from stimulating further unwanted blood vessel growth and leakage. You may see floaters for a few hours following your injection.
Before injection of an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drug, the eye is numbed and a speculum may be put in place to keep the eyelids out of the way.