Treatment is now available for patients with wet macular degeneration called Lucentis, which can help control the growth of bad vessels and stop them leaking. It does not repair the crack in the inner layer of the retina, which is caused by the bad vessels.
Lucentis is a prescription medicine for the treatment of patients with wet-age related macular degeneration, swelling of the macula following retinal vein occlusion or macular swelling caused by uncontrolled diabetes.
There are 2 stages for treatment with Lucentis Injections:
1. Induction Phase
The treatment injected helps block the new vessels from growing and prevent them from leaking. The effect of the injection on the retina swelling and the vision may be rapid or take several months to take effect. This can be monitored through monthly reviews with your Ophthalmologist and monitoring your macula with regular macula scans. During this time the vision is stabilised or improved.
There are several alternative treatments, which are often required to seal the vessels, such as Retinal Laser photocoagulation. This is the type of laser surgery that uses an intense beam of light to burn small areas of the retina to help seal the leaking vessels and the abnormal blood vessels beneath the macula.
2. Maintenance Phase
Following stabilisation, continued treatment is required to maintain the vision as the vessel remains, although non-active. The vision gained during the induction phase is best retained by maintaining high levels of treatment with Lucentis. If the new vessel resumes growth, further control may be difficult to achieve.
Options when stability is achieved:
1. Continue monthly injections: this is the course of action which has resulted in the best maintenance of the vision gained during the induction phase (refer to above).
2. Extension of the period between injections: The interval can often be extended to 6 to 8 weeks with a low risk of loss of control. However, it is important that the patient keeps a close watch for any deterioration in their vision. Regular scans of the macula are also required to ensure any activity of the new vessel is detected at the earliest moment. If reactivation of the vessel growth is detected, monthly injections will be required.
3. Monthly Review: This requires a detailed eye examination every month, with a scan of the macula to ensure that reactivation of the new vessel is detected early. With reactivation monthly injections will need to be reinforced promptly.