Patients who get bevacizumab eye injections should really take note of a new study put out by researchers at the University of British Columbia. These Canadian researchers found that patients who received multiple bevacizumab eye injections annually had a greater incidence of developing glaucoma and requiring eye surgery.
The study clearly shows that patients who had seven or more intravitreous bevacizumab injections annually were at the highest risk of requiring glaucoma surgery. More specifically, these patients were 2.48 times more likely to have glaucoma surgery than those with less or zero bevacizumab eye injections. Doctors did note, however, that there was no increased risk for glaucoma surgery in people who had less than seven bevacizumab injections per year.
To obtain their data, researchers looked at 74 glaucoma surgery patients' medical histories and recorded how many times each of them had bevacizumab injections in the past year. In total, there were over 740 controls in this study.
This isn't the first time doctors have noted a correlation between anti-VEGF injections and eye issues. Indeed, it's been common knowledge in the medical world that anti-VEGF injections directly cause increased intraocular pressure, which is often a warning sign for eye diseases like glaucoma. The really novel thing about this study is that it's the first to directly link glaucoma with anti-VEGF injections.
For those who don't know, anti-VEGF stands for "anti vascular endothelial growth factor." These drugs work by stopping the growth of the VEGF protein in the retinae. This can effectively halt the progression of eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration (AMD) .
In its eye injection form, bevacizumab is classified as an anti-VEGF drug. Bevacizumab, which is sold under the name Avastin, is used to treat both AMD and various forms of cancer. If being used in cancer treatment, bevacizumab is often injected into a person's veins. Common side effects of bevacizumab include gastrointestinal pain, poor appetite, and nausea.
Glaucoma is often caused by increased eye pressure which damages nerves responsible for relaying visual information to the brain. Most patients with glaucoma don't notice key symptoms like blurry vision until the disease has already matured. For this reason, doctors recommend getting eye exams annually to check for the warning signs of glaucoma. If caught early, patients have a better chance of slowing down the disease's progression.
While there's no official cure for glaucoma, there are various treatment strategies employed by ophthalmologists to stop the disease from blinding patients. The most common treatments are eye drops like Latanoprost and laser surgery.
This British Columbia study was published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology under the title "Association of Repeated Intravitreous Bevacizumab Injections With Risk for Glaucoma Surgery." Professors Brennan D. Eadie, Mahyar Etminan, and Bruch C. Carleton wrote the bulk of this report.