VEGF

This stands for Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor. VEGF is a hormone released from the retinal cells when they become hungry for oxygen. This hormone is meant to stimulate the formation of new blood vessels.  The most common causes of VEGF over production are from diabetic retinopathy or a central retinal vein occlusion. When VEGF is released, new blood vessels form to supply the oxygen demand. This process is called neovascularization. Unfortunately, these new blood vessels are abnormal and have a tendency to bleed, scar, and contract, leading to serious visual consequences.  Anti-VEGF medications are the hottest topic in ophthalmology these days because these medications can be injected into the eye to fight off these bad vessels. Anti-VEGF medications also decrease capillary leakage, which has made them a good treatment for wet macular degeneration as well.  Avastin is the first of the anti-VEGF drugs.  Since its advent, there have been newer drug variations that may be more specific for the eye such as Lucentis and Eylea. All of these medications are injected directly into the eye so that they can target the retina directly with less systemic side effects.

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Dr. Timothy Root is a practicing ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon in Daytona Beach, Florida. His books, video lectures, and training resources can be found at:

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