In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and leak blood and fluid. This causes rapid damage to the macula, the portion of the eye responsible for fine, detailed central vision. Eylea (Aflibercept) is a drug that closes down these blood vessels by inhibiting VEGF-A, a protein that plays a critical role in the formation of new blood vessels. It works in a slightly different way to Lucentis and Avastin, the previously available medications for this purpose. In clinical trials it showed an equivalent effect on vision to Lucentis, with a lower number of injections. Eylea was approved by the United States FDA for use in AMD in November 2011. It is registered with Medsafe in NZ, but is not funded by Pharmac or many health insurers, including Southern Cross.
Currently we mainly use Eylea in age-related macular degeneration. However, many other diseases in the eye are likely to also be treatable with Eylea.
The medication is delivered by injection into the vitreous jelly which fills the eye. The injections need to be repeated monthly for the first 3 months, following which the frequency may be reduced, although close monitoring of the eye will still be required, and further injections are likely.
The doctors at Retina Specialists are Southern Cross-affiliated providers of intravitreal injections.