Over the last several years, injection of medication directly into the eye has revolutionized the treatment of a number of retinal conditions. The newest medication is Jetrea®, a compound that accelerates breakdown of the vitreous body in the eye. A class of medications called anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) agents reduce the growth of abnormal blood vessels, slow the leakage of fluid from these vessels, and slow vision loss. Avastin®, Lucentis®, and Eylea® are available for the treatment of the wet form of macular degeneration, advanced diabetic retinopathy, and retinal vein occlusion. Steroid medications can also be injected into the eye in certain cases to decrease inflammation and swelling in the retina. These injections are performed in our office and require dilation of the pupil. It is common for repeated treatments to be needed to control these diseases.
The newest medication for injection is Jetrea®, a medication to treat vitreomacular traction. With age, the vitreous gel in the eye naturally separates from the retina. For most people this happens with minor symptoms of floaters. Sometimes, the vitreous gel does not separate properly from the macula, causing distorted or blurred vision. Up until now, the only treatment for this condition was surgery with risks of retinal damage, infection, and cataract development. Jetrea® is an enzyme that dissolves the proteins holding the vitreous gel to the retina and starts to work within seconds. After 1 month, over 25% of patients had resolution of their symptoms, some noticing improved vision as early as a week after treatment. Jetrea® was also successful in allowing the closure of small macular holes.