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  • What Is Avastin?

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    Reviewed By Ninel Z Gregori, MD
    Published Apr. 19, 2023

    Avastin is a drug used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It is also used to treat diabetic eye disease and other problems of the retina. It is injected into the eye to help slow vision loss from these diseases.

    Avastin is the brand name for the drug, which is called bevacizumab. It blocks the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the back of the eye. It also blocks the leakage of fluid from these blood vessels. The fluid leakage can affect vision, causing vision loss from wet AMD and diabetic eye disease.

    Avastin was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat different types of cancer. Its use to treat eye disease is considered an “off-label” use. The FDA allows “off label” drug use if doctors are well informed about the product and studies prove the drug is helpful. Many studies have shown Avastin as safe and effective for eye disease since it was first used in 2005.

    Lucentis® (ranibizumab), Eylea® (aflibercept) and Beovu® (brolucizumab) are other drugs like Avastin. Vabysmo™ (faricimab) is another anti-VEGF drug that also blocks an additional chemical in the eye called, angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2), that also causes leaky blood vessels. Research shows each of these drugs are effective in slowing vision loss.

    How does Avastin work?

    Abnormal blood vessels need a body chemical called VEGF to grow. Avastin blocks VEGF, slowing the growth of blood vessels in the eye. Drugs that block the trouble-causing VEGF are called anti-VEGF drugs.

    What conditions are treated with Avastin?

    Avastin is used to treat the following eye problems:

    What happens during Avastin treatment?

    During an outpatient procedure, your ophthalmologist first numbs the eye to block pain. Then your doctor injects the Avastin directly into your eye.

    Before the procedure, your ophthalmologist will clean your eye to prevent infection and numb your eye with medicine. A very thin needle is passed through the white part of your eye and the drug is injected. Usually you do not see the needle itself. Depending on your eye condition, you may need to continue the injections for many months or even years.

    Sometimes ophthalmologists will combine Avastin treatment with other treatments for the best chance of saving your vision.

    What are the risks of Avastin treatment?

    Every treatment can have side effects. It is important to understand the benefits and risks of any treatment you might have. 

    Common side effects include:

    Any eye injection, including Avastin, may cause these problems, which are very rare:

    For about 24 hours after an injection, it is normal to feel like there is something in the eye, and to have mild eye pain and light sensitivity if your pupil was dilated. If these or any other side effects last longer, please contact your ophthalmologist right away. Eye redness or a bloody eye can last for a few days.

    If you have any questions about your eyes or your vision, be sure to ask. Your ophthalmologist is committed to protecting your sight.