Drug Information

Anti-VEGF Medicines for Vision Problems

Anti-VEGF Medicines for Vision Problems


Generic Name Brand Name
bevacizumab Avastin
pegaptanib Macugen
ranibizumab Lucentis

These medicines are injected into the eye by your doctor. Before the injection, your doctor will clean the area to prevent infection and numb the eye with eye drops to reduce pain.

How It Works

A protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is one reason why weak abnormal blood vessels may grow under the retina and lead to vision loss. Anti-VEGF medicines block the effects of VEGF. Blocking this protein slows the growth of the abnormal blood vessels. This can slow the vision loss linked to wet age-related macular degeneration  (AMD) or diabetic macular edema .

Why It Is Used

Anti-VEGF medicines are used to slow the vision loss caused by wet AMD. Some of these medicines can also help treat macular edema from diabetic retinopathy.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don’t feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
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Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Hives.
  • A red or painful eye in the few days after your injection.
  • Vision changes in the few days after your injection.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Blurred vision.
  • Eye irritation or discomfort.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don’t take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

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Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.



  1. Arnold J, Heriot W (2007). AMD, search date March 2006. BMJ Clinical Evidence . Available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.