Wet Macular Degeneration
What is wet macular degeneration (WMD)?
Macular degeneration is damage to, or breakdown of, the macula of the eye. The macula is a small area at the back of the eye that allows us to see fine details clearly. Macular degeneration makes close work, like threading a needle or reading a book, difficult or impossible. When the macula doesn't function correctly, we experience blurriness or darkness in the center of our vision. Although macular degeneration reduces vision in the central part of the retina, it does not affect the eye's side or peripheral vision. For example, you could see a clock but not be able to tell what time it is.
One kind of macular degeneration is the “Wet Type.” It is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels behind the macula. The abnormal blood vessels tend to hemorrhage or leak, with the result being the formation of scar tissue if left untreated. Macular degeneration causes a progressive loss of central sight, however, it does not cause total blindness. Peripheral vision is not affected, for example. If left untreated, the wet type of macular degeneration may progress rapidly.1
How retinal specialists treat wet macular degeneration
Avastin® (bevacizumab) is an FDA-approved injectable drug that is used to treat colon cancer. Retinal specialists also use it during treatment of WMD. Typically, a retinal specialist will ask a compounding pharmacy that specializes in sterile compounding, like Wedgewood Pharmacy, to transfer the Avastin (bevacizumab) from the manufacturer's vial into pre-filled syringes that contain a single, very small dose. This injection is sent directly to your retinal specialist who will administered it, usually in his or her office.
Two studies have shown Avastin (bevacizumab) to benefit macular degeneration patients whose eye were treated with Avastin (bevacizumab) injections. Both studies reported that the drug was well-tolerated.
Rosenfeld PJ, Moshfeghi AA, Puliafito CA. Optical coherence tomography findings after an intravitreal injection of bevacizumab (avastin) for neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalmic Surg Lasers Imaging. 2005 Jul- Aug;36(4):331-5.
Michels S, Rosenfeld PJ, Puliafito CA, Marcus EN, Venkatraman AS. Systemic bevacizumab (Avastin) therapy for neovascular age-related macular degeneration twelve-week results of an uncontrolled open-label clinical study. Ophthalmology. 2005 Jun;112(6):1035-47.
1 Excerpted from University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center.