Eylea is a brand-name prescription medication. It’s FDA-approved to help slow or stop vision loss in certain eye conditions.

These conditions affect parts of the eye called the retina or macula. Your retina is a thin, light-sensitive film that lines the back of your eyeball, on the inside. Your macula is a small area near the center of your retina.

Eylea is a type of drug called a vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitor. It reduces leaking from blood vessels in the eye and slows down the growth of new blood vessels.

Eylea comes in two forms: a single-dose vial and a single-dose prefilled syringe. Both contain a dose of 2 mg/0.05 mL. Eylea is given as an injection into the eye by a healthcare provider. You’ll typically receive the drug every 4 weeks to start, but you may have injections less often after the first few months.

What it does

Eylea is used to treat eye conditions that damage your retina or macula and affect your vision as a result. These conditions are:

  • Wet age-related macular degeneration. With age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the macula becomes swollen and scarred. The wet type of AMD is caused by the abnormal growth of new, leaky blood vessels under the macula. Another name for “wet” is “neovascular.”
  • Macular edema following retinal vein occlusion. Macular edema refers to swelling of the macula. This can occur when fluid leaks into the macula following a blockage in your retinal vein. This blockage is known as retinal vein occlusion.
  • Diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes. The eye condition occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina, causing them to swell or leak. New fragile and leaky blood vessels can also grow on the surface of the retina.
  • Diabetic macular edema. Diabetic macular edema is a form of diabetic retinopathy. The leaky blood vessels in your eyes cause the macula to swell.

Effectiveness

For information on the effectiveness of Eylea in treating the eye conditions mentioned above, please see the “Eylea uses” section below.

Eylea is available only as a brand-name medication. It’s not currently available in generic form. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication.

Eylea contains the active drug aflibercept. (As the active drug, aflibercept is the ingredient that makes Eylea work.) Aflibercept is also available as the brand-name drug Zaltrap. However, Zaltrap isn’t used to treat eye diseases. It’s used to treat bowel cancer.

Eylea can cause mild or serious side effects. The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Eylea. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.

For more information on the possible side effects of Eylea, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to deal with any side effects that may be bothersome.

Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs they have approved. If you would like to report to the FDA a side effect you’ve had with Eylea, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild side effects

Mild side effects of Eylea can include:

  • changes to your vision for a time after the injection
  • red spot on the surface of an eye caused by bleeding from a minor blood vessel
  • eye pain
  • eye redness
  • seeing floaters (small squiggly lines or moving spots in your vision)
  • feeling like something is in your eye
  • watery eyes
  • vitreous detachment (a condition in which the jelly-like substance inside your eyeball pulls away from your retina)
  • eyelid swelling

Most of these side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become more severe or don’t go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Eylea aren’t common, but they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms include:

  • Cataracts (a type of eye problem). Symptoms can include:
    • blurry or cloudy vision
    • trouble seeing at night
    • seeing colors as faded
    • increased sensitivity to glare
    • double vision in the affected eye

Other serious side effects, explained in more detail below in “Side effect details,” include:

Side effect details

You may wonder how often certain side effects occur with this drug. Here’s some detail on some of the side effects this drug may cause.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after an Eylea injection.

In clinical studies, allergic reactions occurred in less than 1% of people who were treated with Eylea. Researchers didn’t report how often allergic reactions occurred in people treated with a different drug or a placebo (treatment with no active drug).

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (warmth and redness in your skin)

Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include:

  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat
  • trouble breathing or speaking

Call your doctor right away if you have a severe allergic reaction to Eylea. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Heart problems and stroke

In rare cases, Eylea may increase the risk of getting a blood clot that can cause a stroke or heart attack.

What the studies show

In clinical studies of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), 1.8% of people treated with Eylea had a heart attack or stroke in the first year of treatment. In the same period of time, 1.5% of people treated with a related drug called ranibizumab (Lucentis) had a heart attack or stroke.

Over almost 2 years of treatment, 3.3% of people treated with Eylea had a heart attack or stroke. In the same period of time, 3.2% of people treated with ranibizumab had a heart attack or stroke.

In clinical studies of diabetic macular edema, 3.3% of people treated with Eylea had a heart attack or stroke in the first year of treatment. In the same period of time, 2.8% of people treated with a placebo had a heart attack or stroke.

Over almost 2 years of treatment, 6.4% of people treated with Eylea had a heart attack or stroke. In the same period of time, 4.2% of people treated with placebo had a heart attack or stroke.

In clinical studies of macular edema following retinal vein occlusion, there were no cases of heart attack or stroke in the first 6 months of treatment with Eylea.

Researchers didn’t report if there were cases of heart attack or stroke in people who had laser treatment in this study. And it’s not known how often heart attack or stroke occurred in people who took Eylea for diabetic retinopathy.

Symptoms of a heart attack or stroke

Symptoms of a heart attack or stroke may include:

  • chest pain
  • pain that travels down your left arm
  • nausea
  • sweating
  • trouble breathing or speaking
  • trouble walking
  • numbness or weakness in the arm, face, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • sudden changes in vision
  • sudden severe headache

If you have any of these symptoms while using Eylea, call 911 right away.

And if you’re concerned about heart problems or stroke during your Eylea treatment, talk with your doctor.

Serious eye problems, including detached retina

Eylea injections can sometimes cause serious eye problems, including increased intraocular pressure (pressure inside the eyeball), an infection inside the eyeball, and a detached retina.

Increased pressure in the eye

In clinical studies, increased pressure in the eye occurred in 2% to 9% of people who received Eylea, depending on the condition being treated. By comparison, 7% to 11% of people treated with ranibizumab developed the condition. Increased pressure in the eye also occurred in 0% to 6% of people treated with a placebo.

In the first hour after your injection, you’ll be at risk for increased pressure inside your eyeball. So your healthcare provider will check the pressure in your eye after they give you an injection.

There’s also a risk of increased pressure in the eye after repeated injections of Eylea. Because of this, you’ll have regular eye exams to check the pressure in your eye. If you do develop the condition, it may improve on its own. Or your doctor may treat you with eyedrops that help lower the pressure.

Other eye problems

In clinical studies, infections inside the eyeball and detached retina occurred in fewer than 1% of people treated with Eylea, regardless of what condition was being treated. It’s not known how often these side effects occurred with different treatments or a placebo.

For a few days after having an Eylea injection, you’ll have a small risk of developing an infection inside your eyeball. And you’ll have a small risk of developing a detached retina, a condition in which your retina becomes separated from the back of your eye.

Possible symptoms of infection inside your eyeball or a detached retina include:

  • eye redness or pain in your eye that doesn’t go away or gets worse
  • increased sensitivity to light
  • changes in your vision, such as your vision getting blurrier or darker
  • sudden increase in the number of floaters (small squiggles or dots in your vision)
  • seeing flashes of light

If you have any of these symptoms after having an Eylea injection, tell your eye doctor right away. Eye infections will need to be treated with antibiotics. And a detached retina will need to be treated with surgery.

Floaters

Floaters are small squiggles, lines, or dots that move in your vision. They may develop after having an injection of Eylea.

In clinical studies, floaters were reported by 1% to 8% of people treated with Eylea, depending on the condition being treated. By comparison, 7% to 10% of people treated with ranibizumab reported having floaters. And floaters were reported by 0% to 6% of people treated with a placebo.

Floaters aren’t usually serious and usually disappear after a few days. However, if you suddenly notice a lot of floaters in your vision, tell your eye doctor right away. It could be a sign of a detached retina. (To learn more, see the “ Serious eye problems, including detached retina” section right above.)

Other drugs are available that can treat your condition. Some may be a better fit for you than others. If you’re interested in finding an alternative to Eylea, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that may work well for you.

Note: Some of the drugs listed here are used off-label to treat these specific conditions. Off-label use is when a drug that’s approved to treat one condition is used to treat a different condition.

Alternatives for wet age-related macular degeneration

Examples of other drugs that may be used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) include:

  • bevacizumab (Avastin)
  • brolucizumab (Beovu)
  • pegaptanib (Macugen)
  • ranibizumab (Lucentis)
  • verteporfin (Visudyne)

Another potential treatment option is a supplement that researchers looked at in a study called AREDS2 (Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2). If you would like to learn about the AREDS formulation, talk with your doctor.

Alternatives for diabetic retinopathy

Examples of other drugs that may be used to treat diabetic retinopathy include:

  • bevacizumab (Avastin)
  • brolucizumab (Beovu)
  • ranibizumab (Lucentis)

Alternatives for macular edema following retinal vein occlusion

Examples of other drugs that may be used to treat macular edema following retinal vein occlusion include:

  • bevacizumab (Avastin)
  • brolucizumab (Beovu)
  • ranibizumab (Lucentis)
  • dexamethasone intravitreal implant (Ozurdex)
  • corticosteroid eye drops, tablets, or injections

Alternatives for diabetic macular edema

Examples of other drugs that may be used to treat diabetic macular edema include:

  • bevacizumab (Avastin)
  • brolucizumab (Beovu)
  • ranibizumab (Lucentis)
  • dexamethasone intravitreal implant (Ozurdex)
  • fluocinolone acetonide intravitreal implant (Iluvien)
  • corticosteroid eye drops, tablets, or injections

Here’s some information about how Eylea compares with a drug called Avastin.

Ingredients

Eylea contains the active drug aflibercept. Avastin contains the active drug bevacizumab.

Eylea and Avastin belong to a class of drugs called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. Eylea and Avastin both reduce leaking from blood vessels and slow down the growth of new blood vessels.

Uses

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Eylea to help slow or stop vision loss in certain eye conditions that affect parts of the eye called the retina or macula. Your retina is a thin, light-sensitive film that lines the back of your eyeball, on the inside. And your macula is part of your retina.

Eylea is approved to treat:

  • Wet age-related macular degeneration. With age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the macula becomes swollen and scarred. The wet type of AMD is caused by the abnormal growth of new, leaky blood vessels under the macula. Another name for “ wet” is “neovascular.”
  • Macular edema following retinal vein occlusion. Macular edema refers to swelling of the macula. This can occur when fluid leaks into the macula following a blockage in your retinal vein. This blockage is known as retinal vein occlusion.
  • Diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes. The eye condition occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina, causing them to swell or leak. New fragile and leaky blood vessels can also grow on the surface of the retina.
  • Diabetic macular edema. Diabetic macular edema is a form of diabetic retinopathy. The leaky blood vessels in your eyes cause the macula to swell.

Avastin is also widely used to treat all these conditions. However, these are off-label uses for Avastin according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Off-label use is when a drug that’s approved to treat one condition is used to treat a different condition.

Avastin has FDA approval to treat only various types of cancer when used with other drugs. These cancers include:

Drug forms and administration

Eylea comes in two forms: a single-dose vial and a single-dose prefilled syringe. Avastin comes in one form: a single-dose vial.

Both Eylea and Avastin are given as an injection into the eye by a healthcare provider. You’ll typically receive the drug every 4 weeks to start, but you may have injections less often after the first few months.

Costs

Eylea and Avastin are both brand-name drugs. There are currently no generic forms of either drug. Brand-name medications usually cost more than generics.

According to estimates on WellRx.com, a vial of Eylea costs significantly more than a vial of Avastin. The actual price you’ll pay for either drug will depend on your insurance plan and your location.

You may wonder how Eylea compares with other medications that are prescribed for similar uses. Here’s a comparison of how Eylea and Lucentis are alike and different.

Ingredients

Eylea contains the active drug aflibercept. Lucentis contains the active drug ranibizumab.

Eylea and Lucentis belong to a class of drugs called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. Eylea and Lucentis both reduce leaking from blood vessels and slow down the growth of new blood vessels.

Uses

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Eylea and Lucentis to help slow or stop vision loss in certain eye conditions. These eye conditions affect parts of the eye called the retina or macula. Your retina is a thin, light-sensitive film that lines the back of your eyeball, on the inside. And your macula is part of your retina.

Eylea and Lucentis are approved to treat:

  • Wet age-related macular degeneration. With age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the macula becomes swollen and scarred. The wet type of AMD is caused by the abnormal growth of new, leaky blood vessels under the macula. Another name for “wet” is “neovascular.”
  • Macular edema following retinal vein occlusion. Macular edema refers to swelling of the macula. This can occur when fluid leaks into the macula following a blockage in your retinal vein. This blockage is known as retinal vein occlusion.
  • Diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes. The eye condition occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina, causing them to swell or leak. New fragile and leaky blood vessels can also grow on the surface of the retina.
  • Diabetic macular edema. Diabetic macular edema is a form of diabetic retinopathy. The leaky blood vessels in your eyes cause the macula to swell.

Lucentis is also FDA-approved to treat myopic choroidal neovascularization. This is an eye condition in which abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula.

Drug forms and administration

Both Eylea and Lucentis come in two forms: a single-dose vial and a single-dose prefilled syringe. The drugs are given as an injection into the eye by a healthcare provider. You’ll typically receive Eylea or Lucentis every 4 weeks to start, but you may have injections less often after the first few months.

Side effects and risks

Eylea and Lucentis both contain an anti-VEGF drug. Therefore, these medications can cause very similar side effects, but some different ones as well. Below are examples of these side effects.

Mild side effects

These lists contain up to 10 of the most common mild side effects that can occur with Eylea, with Lucentis, or with both drugs (when taken individually).

  • Can occur with Eylea:
    • few unique mild side effects
  • Can occur with Lucentis:
    • eyes that are dry or itchy
  • Can occur with both Eylea and Lucentis:
    • changes to your vision for a time after the injection
    • red spot on the surface of an eye caused by bleeding from a minor blood vessel
    • eye pain
    • eye redness
    • seeing floaters (small squiggly lines or moving spots in your vision)
    • feeling like something is in your eye
    • eyelid swelling

Serious side effects

This list contains examples of serious side effects that can occur with Eylea or with Lucentis (when taken individually):

Effectiveness

Eylea and Lucentis have slightly different FDA-approved uses, but they’re both used to treat the following conditions:

  • wet AMD
  • macular edema following retinal vein occlusion
  • diabetic retinopathy
  • diabetic macular edema

The use of Eylea and Lucentis in treating wet AMD has been directly compared in a clinical study. Researchers found that these drugs were similarly effective for wet AMD. Both Eylea and Lucentis stopped vision from getting worse in around 95% of people. And both medications improved vision for about 30% to 40% of people.

Another clinical study directly compared the use of Eylea and Lucentis in treating diabetic macular edema. Researchers found these drugs to be similarly effective for people with mild vision loss. But for people with more severe loss of vision, they found that Eylea was more likely to improve vision than Lucentis.

A further analysis of this study looked at whether symptoms of diabetic retinopathy improved when diabetic macular edema was treated with Eylea or Lucentis.

Researchers found that the severity of diabetic retinopathy symptoms improved to a similar degree with both treatments. But for people with severe diabetic retinopathy (with growth of new blood vessels on the retina), Eylea reduced symptoms of diabetic retinopathy more than Lucentis.

Finally, a recent review of studies found Eylea and Lucentis to be similarly effective for treating macular edema following retinal vein occlusion.

Costs

Eylea and Lucentis are both brand-name drugs. There are currently no generic forms of either drug. Brand-name medications usually cost more than generics.

According to estimates on WellRx.com, Eylea and Lucentis generally cost about the same. The actual price you’ll pay for either drug will depend on your insurance plan and your location.

The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.

Drug forms and strengths

Eylea comes as a single-dose vial and a single-dose prefilled syringe. The drug is available in one strength: 2 mg/0.05 mL.

Dosage for wet age-related macular degeneration

The usual dose for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one injection (2 mg/0.05 mL), which is given in the eye. You’ll receive an injection once every 4 weeks for the first 12 weeks. After this, you’ll usually have one injection every 8 weeks.

You may keep having one injection every 4 weeks, if your doctor feels this is right for you. But for most people, this dosage isn’t more effective than having one injection every 8 weeks.

Your doctor will check your vision on a regular basis. If Eylea is working for you, after 1 year of treatment you may have an injection once every 12 weeks. However, this may not be as effective as having an injection once every 8 weeks.

Dosage for diabetic retinopathy

The usual dose for diabetic retinopathy is one injection (2 mg/0.05 mL), which is given into the eye. For your first five injections, you’ll receive an injection once every 4 weeks. After this you’ll usually have one injection every 8 weeks.

You may keep having one injection every 4 weeks, if your doctor feels this is right for you. But for most people, this dosage isn’t more effective than having one injection every 8 weeks.

Dosage for macular edema following retinal vein occlusion

The usual dose for macular edema following retinal vein occlusion is one injection (2 mg/0.05 mL), which is given into the eye. You’ll have one injection every 4 weeks.

Dosage for diabetic macular edema

The usual dose for diabetic macular edema is one injection (2 mg/0.05 mL), which is given into the eye. For your first five injections, you’ll receive an injection once every 4 weeks. After this, you’ll usually have one injection every 8 weeks.

You may keep having one injection every 4 weeks, if your doctor feels this is right for you. But for most people, this isn’t more effective than having one injection every 8 weeks.

What if I miss an appointment for a dose?

If you miss an appointment to have your injection, call your eye doctor as soon as possible to reschedule.

To help make sure that you don’t miss an appointment, try setting a reminder on your phone. You can also put your treatment schedule on a calendar.

Will I need to use this drug long term?

Eylea is meant to be used as a long-term treatment. You’ll have regular eye tests and exams to check how well the injections are working for you. If you and your doctor determine that Eylea is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely have the injections long term.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs such as Eylea to treat certain conditions.

Eylea is FDA-approved to treat certain eye conditions that affect your retina or macula.

Your retina is a thin, light-sensitive film that lines the back of your eyeball, on the inside. The retina changes light into nerve signals that are sent to your brain. Your brain processes these signals to produce your vision.

Your macula is a small area near the center of your retina. It’s in charge of sending nerve signals that create sharp, clear, central vision. The macula allows you to see fine details and colors that are straight ahead of you.

The rest of your retina produces your peripheral (side) vision. In addition, the retina allows you to view motion and see in dim light.

Eylea for wet age-related macular degeneration

Eylea is FDA-approved to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Wet AMD is a condition that can affect your central vision as you get older. It reduces your ability to see fine detail and colors and makes the center of your vision become darker and blurry.

Wet AMD can make it harder to read, see faces, and drive. The condition gets worse over time. However, wet AMD doesn’t affect your peripheral vision, so it doesn’t cause complete blindness.

Wet AMD is caused by the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels underneath your macula. These blood vessels leak fluids and blood into the macula, causing swelling and scarring of the macula.

Eylea reduces leakage from blood vessels and slows down the growth of new blood vessels. The drug works to delay or stop central vision loss due to wet AMD. Also, Eylea may help improve vision in some people.

Effectiveness

Two clinical studies found Eylea effective for maintaining or improving visual acuity in people with wet AMD. Visual acuity is how clearly you can see shapes and detail. It’s tested using a chart of letters that you read from a certain distance. The letters are in rows that get progressively smaller and are harder to read if you have central vision loss.

Researchers compared how many letters people could read on an eye chart before and after 1 year of treatment. Eylea was compared with a similar drug called ranibizumab (Lucentis). Both treatments produced similar results.

Of the people treated with Eylea, 95% maintained visual acuity after 1 year. This means they could read the same number of letters on an eye chart or they lost the ability to read fewer than 15 letters on the eye chart. Of the people treated with ranibizumab, 94% to 95% had the same result.

Of the people treated with Eylea, 29% to 38% had an improvement in their vision after 1 year. These people could read at least 15 letters more on an eye chart than they could before treatment. Of the people treated with ranibizumab, 31% to 34% had the same result.

Eylea for diabetic retinopathy

Eylea is FDA-approved to treat diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes. The eye condition occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in your retina, causing them to swell or leak. New blood vessels can also grow on the surface of the retina. These blood vessels are fragile and leaky and can cause further damage to the retina.

Diabetic retinopathy can damage your central and peripheral vision. The condition can cause several symptoms and lead to blindness. The symptoms can include:

  • blurred vision
  • reduced ability to see colors
  • floaters
  • poor night vision
  • dark or blank spots in your field of vision

Eylea reduces leakage from blood vessels and slows down the growth of new blood vessels. This reduces and delays damage to your retina.

Effectiveness

Three clinical studies found Eylea effective for easing the severity of diabetic retinopathy. Researchers assessed this using a 5-point scale called the diabetic retinopathy severity scale (DRSS). This scale rates the severity of the retinopathy based on dilated eye exams. These look for swelling, leaking, or defects of the blood vessels inside the eye, rather than checking vision.

In one study, researchers looked at people who had diabetic retinopathy without macular edema. The researchers assessed the severity of diabetic retinopathy before treatment, after 6 months of treatment, and after 1 year of treatment. Eylea was compared with a placebo (treatment with no active drug).

After 6 months, 58% of people treated with Eylea had an improvement of at least 2 points on the DRSS. Of people treated with a placebo, 6% achieved this result. After 1 year, 65% to 80% of people treated with Eylea had an improvement of at least 2 points on the DRSS. This result was achieved in 15% of people who had placebo treatment.

This study also found that Eylea reduced the risk of developing the most severe form of retinopathy, which is called proliferative retinopathy. People treated with Eylea were 85% to 88% less likely to have their condition progress to this severe form of retinopathy than people treated with a placebo.

Eylea for diabetic macular edema

Eylea is FDA-approved to treat diabetic macular edema.

Diabetic macular edema is a form of diabetic retinopathy. (For more on diabetic retinopathy, see the “Eylea for diabetic retinopathy” section right above.) Diabetic macular edema is an eye disease that specifically affects the macula. It occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in your macula, causing them to swell or leak.

Diabetic macular edema affects your central vision, reducing your ability to see fine detail and colors, and causing the center of your vision to become darker and blurry.

Eylea reduces leakage from blood vessels in your eyes, so it helps to reduce swelling in your macula. The drug may help to improve vision in people with diabetic macular edema.

Effectiveness

Two clinical studies found Eylea effective for improving visual acuity in people with diabetic macular edema. Visual acuity is how clearly you can see shapes and detail.

It’s tested using a chart of letters that you read from a certain distance. The letters are in rows that get progressively smaller and are harder to read if you have central vision loss.

Researchers compared how many letters people could read on an eye chart before treatment, after 1 year of treatment, and after another year. Eylea was compared with laser treatment.

After 1 year, people treated with Eylea could read on average 10 to 12 more letters than they could before treatment. And 31% to 42% of people treated with Eylea could read at least 15 letters more on an eye chart than they could before treatment. These improvements in visual acuity remained after the second year.

In these studies, Eylea was more effective than laser treatment.

After 1 year, people who had laser treatment could read on average 1 more letter than they could before treatment. Fewer than 10% of people who had laser treatment could read at least 15 letters more on an eye chart than they could before treatment.

Eylea for macular edema following retinal vein occlusion

Eylea is FDA-approved to treat macular edema following retinal vein occlusion. Macular edema refers to swelling of the macula. This can occur when fluid leaks into the macula following a blockage in your retinal vein. This blockage is known as retinal vein occlusion.

Your retinal vein carries blood from your eye back to your heart. Sometimes a blood clot can develop in this vein, causing a blockage. The blockage causes pressure to build up in the vein. As a result, blood and fluid can leak out into your macula, causing it to swell. This type of macula edema causes blurred vision or a loss of vision that develops suddenly or over a few hours.

If the blockage is in the main retinal vein, it’s called central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO). If it occurs in one of the smaller branches off the main retinal vein, it’s called branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO).

Eylea reduces leakage from blood vessels in your eyes, so it reduces swelling in your macula. The drug may help improve your vision if you have macula edema following CRVO or BRVO.

Effectiveness

Clinical studies have found Eylea effective for improving visual acuity in people with macular edema following retinal vein occlusion.

Visual acuity is how clearly you can see shapes and detail. It’s tested using a chart of letters that you read from a certain distance. The letters are in rows that get progressively smaller and are harder to read if you have central vision loss.

Researchers compared how many letters people could read on an eye chart before and after 6 months of treatment. Eylea was compared with a placebo.

Two studies looked at people with macula edema following CRVO. After 6 months, 56% to 60% of people treated with Eylea could read at least 15 letters more on an eye chart than they could before treatment. This result was achieved in 12% to 22% of people treated with placebo.

One study looked at people with macula edema following BRVO. After 6 months, 52.7% of people treated with Eylea could read at least 15 letters more on an eye chart than they could before treatment. This result was achieved in 26.7% of people treated with placebo.

Eylea and children

It’s not known if Eylea is safe or effective in children. The drug isn’t approved to treat children.

Eylea is used to treat:

These are all eye conditions that are caused by leaky blood vessels in your retina or macula. These areas inside the back of your eyeball are responsible for turning light into nerve signals that your brain can interpret as images. The macula is in the center of your retina.

If the blood vessels in your retina become damaged or blocked, it means that blood and fluid can leak into your retina and macula. This can cause your retina and macula to swell, resulting in blurry vision or loss of vision. And if not enough blood reaches the macula or retina, your eye will create new blood vessels. But these new blood vessels are often fragile and leaky, so they make the problem worse.

For more details about these conditions, see the “Eylea uses” section above.

What Eylea does

Eylea is a type of drug called a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor.

VEGF is a protein that’s produced by cells throughout your body. VEGF attaches to special sites, called VEGF receptors, that are found in the walls of blood vessels. When VEGF attaches to these sites, it makes blood vessels leakier and stimulates new blood vessels to grow.

Eylea works by attaching to VEGF, so that VEGF is no longer free to act on blood vessels. When Eylea is injected inside your eyeball, it essentially “mops up” the VEGF that’s inside your eye. This reduces leaking from blood vessels and slows down the growth of new fragile blood vessels in your retina and macula.

Eylea helps reduce swelling in the retina and macula. The drug helps slow down or stop vision loss in the conditions listed above. And in some cases, Eylea helps improve vision.

How fast does Eylea work?

The timing can vary from person to person, depending on what condition is being treated and how they respond to the treatment. Not everyone’s vision will improve with Eylea. And you might not notice if your vision stabilizes (stops getting worse but doesn’t improve). Talk with your doctor about what you might expect from Eylea treatment.

Eylea isn’t known to interact with alcohol. If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much is safe for you to consume during your treatment with Eylea.

Drug interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some interactions can interfere with how well a drug works. Other interactions can increase the number of side effects or make them more severe.

Eylea and other medications

There aren’t any drugs that have been specifically reported to interact with Eylea.

However, if you’re taking any treatments for glaucoma, talk with your doctor about whether Eylea is right for you. Glaucoma is a condition in which you have increased pressure in your eye. It’s typically treated with eye drops to lower the pressure in your eye. Sometimes Eylea can increase the pressure in your eye. So Eylea could make your glaucoma treatment less effective.

Before you start receiving Eylea, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Eylea and herbs and supplements

There aren’t any herbs or supplements that have been specifically reported to interact with Eylea. However, you should still check with your doctor or pharmacist before using any of these products while taking Eylea.

As with all medications, the cost of Eylea can vary. To find current prices for Eylea in your area, check out WellRx.com. The cost you find on WellRx.com is what you may pay without insurance. The actual price you’ll pay will depend on your insurance plan and your location.

Your insurance plan may require you to get prior authorization before they approve coverage for Eylea. This means that your doctor and insurance company will need to communicate about your prescription before the insurance company will cover the drug. The insurance company will review the request and let you and your doctor know if your plan will cover Eylea.

If you’re not sure if you’ll need to get prior authorization for Eylea, contact your insurance plan.

Financial assistance

If you need financial support to pay for Eylea, help is available. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the manufacturer of Eylea, offers a program called EYLEA4U. For more information and to find out if you’re eligible, call 855-EYLEA4U (855-395-3248) and press option 4 or visit the program website.

Eylea comes in two forms: a single-dose vial and a single-dose prefilled syringe. The drug is given as an injection into your eye. This is called an intravitreal injection.

Your ophthalmologist (eye specialist) will first wash your eye to reduce the risk of infection. Then they’ll numb your eye, using local anesthetic drops, to minimize any discomfort. Using a very thin needle that usually you won’t be able to see, the doctor will inject Eylea into the white part of your eye. The medication will reach the vitreous, the jelly-like substance that’s inside your eyeball.

How often Eylea is given

You’ll usually receive an injection of Eylea once every 4 weeks to start. After the first few injections, you’ll usually have an injection once every 8 weeks.

Exactly how often you’ll have your injections depends on what condition is being treated and how you respond to the treatment. Your doctor will explain how often you’ll have Eylea.

To help make sure that you don’t miss an appointment for your injection, try setting a reminder on your phone. You can also put your treatment schedule on a calendar.

It’s not known if Eylea is safe to receive during pregnancy. Studies of Eylea in animals found that the drug can cause fetal harm when used during pregnancy. However, animal studies don’t always predict what will happen in humans.

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about the possible risks and benefits of Eylea.

It’s not known if Eylea is safe to receive during pregnancy. If you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your birth control needs while you’re using Eylea.

Women who can become pregnant are advised to start using birth control before their first injection of Eylea. Birth control should be used throughout treatment and for 3 months after the last injection.

Eylea isn’t recommended for use while breastfeeding. It’s not known if the drug passes into breast milk or if it can affect breast milk production.

If you’re breastfeeding, talk with your doctor. They can review the best way to feed your child and what eye treatments are right for you.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Eylea.

Is Eylea a steroid?

No, Eylea isn’t a steroid. Steroids, which may also be called corticosteroids, are medications that reduce inflammation (swelling). They may help ease swelling in your eye, but they don’t treat whatever is causing the swelling.

Eylea, on the other hand, is a type of drug called a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor. It reduces the swelling in your eye by treating the cause of the swelling. Eylea works by reducing leaking from blood vessels in the eye and stopping new blood vessels from growing.

Can I drive myself home after receiving Eylea injections?

No. You shouldn’t drive after having an Eylea injection. Before giving the injection, your eye doctor will use drops to dilate (widen) your pupil, so they can examine a part of your eye called the retina. This can make your eyes more sensitive to light. An Eylea injection can also affect your vision for a time. So after having an injection, you’ll need to wear dark glasses and arrange for someone to drive you home.

For help getting a ride home from your injection appointment, the Eylea site mentions a program called Rides in Sight. To learn more, visit the drug website and scroll down to the section named “Need a ride? Rides in Sight can help.” You can also call 855-607-4337.

How often will I have to have my eyes checked during Eylea treatment?

Your eye doctor will check your vision and eyes regularly during your Eylea treatment. How often this occurs depends on what condition you have and how you respond to the treatment. Your doctor will tell you how often they want to examine your eyes.

Typically, you’ll have a dilated eye exam before each injection. (Your eye doctor will use drops to dilate your pupil.) This allows them to monitor your retina for any changes or problems. Your doctor will also check your vision. You may have other tests as well.

After each injection, your doctor will note the pressure in your eye.

If you have any questions about what eye tests you’ll need during your Eylea treatment, talk with your doctor.

Will Eylea cure my eye condition?

No. There’s currently no cure for the eye conditions Eylea is used to treat. However, the drug may help control these conditions long term and help stop your vision from getting worse. For many people, Eylea can also help improve vision.

This drug comes with several precautions. Before taking Eylea, talk with your doctor about your health history. Eylea may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors affecting your health. These include:

  • Eye infections. You shouldn’t receive Eylea if you havean infection in or around your eye. The infection will first need to be treated, and then you and your doctor can decide if Eylea is right for you.
  • Eye inflammation. You shouldn’t receive Eylea if your eye is inflamed (red, swollen, or painful).The inflammation will first need to be treated, and then you and your doctor can decide if Eylea is right for you.
  • Allergy to Eylea. You shouldn’t receive Eylea if you’re allergic to aflibercept (the active drug in Eylea) or any of the inactive ingredients in Eylea. Your doctor can tell you what these are and recommend a different treatment.
  • Glaucoma. Eylea can increase the pressure in your eye. So if you have glaucoma (increased pressure in your eye), Eylea could make this condition worse. Talk with your doctor about whether Eylea is right for you.
  • Heart disease. In rare cases, Eylea may increase the risk of blood clots that could cause a heart attack or stroke. So if you have heart disease, talk with your doctor about whether Eylea is right for you.
  • Pregnancy. It’s not known if Eylea is safe to receive during pregnancy. For more information, please see the “Eylea and pregnancy” section above.
  • Breastfeeding. Eylea isn’t recommended for use while breastfeeding. For more information, please see the “Eylea and breastfeeding” section above.

Note: For more information about the potential negative effects of Eylea, see the “Eylea side effects” section above.

The following information is provided for clinicians and other healthcare professionals.

Indications

Eylea is FDA-approved to treat:

Mechanism of action

Eylea contains the recombinant fusion protein aflibercept. The drug is given by injection directly into the vitreous so that it can act locally in the eye.

Aflibercept is an inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF). VEGF increases vascular permeability, and stimulates neovascularization in the retina. VEGF does this by activating VEGF receptors on endothelial cells in the eye.

Aflibercept binds free VEGF in the vitreous, thereby reducing vascular permeability and neovascularization in the retina and macula. This reduces macula edema and retinal damage.

Pharmacokinetics and metabolism

After intravitreal injection, some of the administered dose of aflibercept forms an inactive complex with VEGF in the vitreous. Some of the administered dose of aflibercept is absorbed into the systemic circulation as free aflibercept.

The mean Cmax (maximum concentration) of free aflibercept in the systemic circulation was 0.02 mcg/mL to 0.05 mcg/mL, depending on the condition treated. This concentration is far lower (more than 100 times lower) than the concentration needed to bind half the VEGF in the systemic circulation.

Free aflibercept is not detectable in plasma 2 weeks after intravitreal injection, and it doesn’t accumulate with repeated dosing.

Aflibercept is eliminated through proteolysis.

Contraindications

Eylea must not be used in people with:

  • ocular or periocular infections
  • active intraocular inflammation
  • known allergy to any ingredient of Eylea

Storage

Store Eylea prefilled injections and vials in their original carton, in a refrigerator (36°F to 46°F or 2°C to 8°C).

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.