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Avastin eye injection is a treatment for macular degeneration and other eye diseases
Avastin side effects and complications
Avastin, also called Bevacizumab, has been used for eye treatment since 2005.1 Avastin was first FDA approved for cancerous tumor treatment but ophthalmologists quickly discovered its promise for the treatment of leaking blood vessels caused by many common eye diseases. Eye doctors have used the drug “off-label” ever since. Since Avastin isn’t FDA approved for use in the eye, its intraocular use is considered off-label. Avastin has become a mainstream treatment for wet macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema.
Many “mainstream” treatments are used off label – some examples are Aspirin, Botox and many of the common depression treatments.
Intraocular use became very popular and Avastin is currently one of the most commonly used anti-VEGF medications in the United States.
Avastin ocular injection side effects
Although quite rare, some complications and side effects of Avastin eye injections have been reported. Virtually every single intraocular medication has a risk of side effects. We will attempt to cover Avastin complications in this Avastin Side Effects article.
Since Avastin was first FDA approved for cancer, let’s look at those initial Avastin side effects findings.
Complications when Avastin is given to cancer patients
It was found that when patients with certain types of cancer were treated with intravenous Avastin, a small amount of those patients experienced serious and sometimes life-threatening complications.
Patients who experienced these complications not only had tumorous cancer, but they were also given 400 times the amount of the drug normally given to eye disease patients. Furthermore, cancer patients are treated more frequently. Additionally, treating intravenously always comes with higher risks and more likelihood of complications.
One study of patients who received Avastin intravenously reported only a mild elevation in blood pressure.
Avastin eye injection side effects and risks
Since the beginning of mainstream Avastin use in the eye, the occurrence of side effects and complications from Avastin have been low.
In most cases, a patient receiving Avastin for an eye disease is in overall better health than a cancer patient – this would presumably reduce the risk of Avastin side effects, just on the basis of whole body health. Furthermore, the dose of the Avastin drug being used for eye conditions is significantly smaller (1/400th) than the IV dosage given to cancer patients.
The head-to-head data comparing IV Avastin with intraocular Avastin side effects showed the Avastin given into the eye had none of the side effects of the IV treatments.
Most common Avastin side effects
After more than ten year of using intraocular Avastin, ophthalmologists have seen a very small amount of side effects. However, these are the most common Avastin complications seen:
- Eye redness and irritation
- Bloodshot eye
- Small specks or bubble shapes in vision
- Elevation in eye pressure
- Feeling like a foreign object is in the eye
Here are some very uncommon Avastin complications:
- Inflammation inside the eye
- Retina or vitreous bleeding
- Retinal detachment
- Decreased eye pressure
- Cornea problems
- Intraocular infection (endophthalmitis)
An Avastin complication may not get better or may even become worse. These complications may cause decreased vision and/or cause blindness. Additional procedures may be needed to treat these complications. During the follow up visits or phone calls, your ophthalmologist and/or her staff should check for possible side effects and the results should be discussed with you.
It is important to understand that whenever a medication is used in a large number of patients, a small number of coincidental life-threatening problems may occur that have no relationship to the treatment.
Allergic reaction to Avastin eye injection
Any medication has the potential to cause allergic reactions in a small number of people. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include a rash, hives, itching, shortness of breath, and rarely, death (extremely rare). If you have allergies to other medicines, foods, or other things in the environment, or if you have asthma, you should let your ophthalmologist or his staff know. Being prone to allergies could be a red flag for your doctor to choose a different mode of treatment.