Intravitreal injections are used to mainly treat neovascular diseases, which lead to abnormal growth of capillaries inside the eye.
Vessel proliferation is a very complex process regulated by a large number of chemical factors, including VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) that plays a fundamental role in generating the stimulus to the formation of abnormal vessels.
Currently, a new drug treatment is available that can stop the vascular genesis of the disease (anti-VEGF drugs).
Pathologies that benefit from this therapy are:
- Wet age-related macular degeneration;
- Proliferating diabetic retinopathy;
- Venous occlusions;
- Neovascular glaucoma;
- All conditions that have retinal ischemia (lack of blood flow) in common.
The treatment aims to prevent further visual impairment and even some patients found an improvement in vision.
After pupillary dilation and anesthesia of the eye, the drug is injected into the vitreous, the gelatinous substance that fills the back camera of the eyeball.
Intravitreal injections are repeated at regular intervals of about a month until needed (on average three times).
Recently, a new therapeutic strategy has come about, the Ozurdex, an intraocular slow cortisone implant released inside the vitreous cavity. The anti-inflammatory active ingredient is dexamethasone, which is released slowly for up to 6 months. Patients, who see a permanent improvement in their vision, do not need further administrations. On the other hand, if after 6 months from the reduced implantation, retinal edema reappears and visual reduction occurs, it can be repeated.
Another drug approved for the treatment of “wet” macular degeneration is Eylea (aflibercept). Eylea belonging to those already known drugs called anti-VEGF (Avastin, Lucentis, Macugen) that are injected inside the eye in case of macular degeneration complicated by the growth of new blood vessels. Eylea prevents the growth of these neovases and slows the macular damage caused by the diffusion of liquids typical of neovases in a more effective manner and longer lasting compared to previous anti-VEGF drugs.This drug is injected into the vitreous chamber monthly for a number of times that varies from case to case based on the patient’s clinical condition.