Lucentis is the trade name for ranibizumab.
This wonderful drug works by blocking the action of a protein known as ‘VEGF” or vasoendothelial growth factor. VEGF is the primary cause of blood vessels growing abnormally and bleeding or leaking. It is particularly prominent in wet macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and vein blockages.
In wet macular degeneration, small capillaries grow underneath the retina in response to various stimuli. These capillaries leak or bleed and cause scar tissue to form. It is this process that damages eyesight in AMD. Many trials have established that Lucentis works to stop or at least limit the damage done in wet AMD and today it is the standard of care for this condition. There is increasing evidence of the benefit of Lucentis in the other conditions as well and in time Lucentis may be increasingly used for these diseases.
Lucentis is given as an injection directly into the affected eye. Typically, this is done in the office with local anaesthetic. Very little discomfort is associated with the procedure which in itself only takes about 15 minutes. Eye drops are used prior to the injection to dilate the pupil and numb the eye surface. The local anaesthetic is given as an injection and then a minute later the Lucentis is injected. Some people can actually see the liquid Lucentis entering the eye. After the injection, a pad is placed on the eye and you will be instructed to use antibiotic drops for the next four days. To be effective Lucentis usually needs to be given monthly. Its effect is monitored by examination and by OCT scanning.
Lucentis is a very safe drug and appears to have no adverse effects within the eye. There has been a theoretical risk of it increasing the rate of stroke and heart attack but increasingly there seems little evidence to support such a contention. The other major problems caused by Lucentis are damage to the lens of the eye by misdirection of the needle, retinal detachment, and infection.
Occasionally some patients get pain a few hours after the injection. This is usually related to the use of Betadine antiseptic solution and only rarely indicates a severe complication such as infection. If you have pain please let us know.