Eylea, (also known as aflibercept) is a treatment which is injected into the eye which can treat a variety of potentially sight threatening diseases.
Eylea has been specially developed to strongly counteract a chemical which can rise in the eye called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Raised VEGF levels are seen in many diseases including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion. This can contribute to the features seen in these eye problems including, growth of new blood vessels, bleeding and swelling in the retina. By reducing VEGF levels in the eye Eylea treatment can lead to improvement in these conditions and improvements in the vision.
What diseases can be treated using Eylea?
Eylea was first developed to treat wet age-related macular degeneration and approved for use in the UK in 2012. It may also be appropriate in other conditions including retinal vein occlusion and diabetic macular oedema. The results of studies and its benefit for these and other diseases are expected and would be discussed with you if appropriate for your eye.
How is Eylea treatment given?
Before Eylea treatment you will have anaesthetic drops instilled in your eye. These numb the eye so that you do not feel pain during the procedure. The surface of your eye will also be sterilised using an antiseptic solution such as iodine. If you have any allergies please let the staff know before treatment.
The procedure itself is quick and painless. The Eylea is injected directly into the vitreous humour, a jelly like substance inside the back parts of the eye. You may be given antibiotic drops after the treatment to use in your eyes for a few days to reduce the risk of infection.
For most diseases a single treatment of Eylea is not enough. The treatment needs to be regularly repeated to gain maximum benefit. The number and duration of treatments will be tailored to your specific case.
Are there any risks from treatment?
Any eye injection can commonly cause minor side effects. These include temporary discomfort or eye irritation after the procedure, bleeding on the white of the eye giving it a bloodshot appearance, visual disturbances such as small specks or floaters in the vision.
Side effects which may require treatment include eye inflammation, raised pressure and possible small risk with long term use of cataract. If these problems occur they can be treated.
Serious side effects are very rare. These include eye infection, bleeding and retinal detachment. In rare cases these can lead to severe or permanent loss of vision. Large trials have shown that these complications occur in less than 1 in a thousand injections.
If Eylea were to get into the bloodstream there are theoretical risks of increased risk of blood clots which can cause heart attack or stroke. Although this is mentioned as a potential risk, in practice the amount which can get into the blood is so small such risks are thought to be remote and have not been proven.
What are the alternative options?
All currently available options for your eye disease would be discussed. These options may include laser treatment, other eye injections such as steroid injections or other anti-VEGF injections such as Avastin or Lucentis. The most appropriate treatment will vary or a combination of these options may be best in and individual case. These options would be discussed with you.