Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Research & Updates

Q: A while ago, I heard that researchers were studying whether injections of anti-VEGF medications in one eye might slow blood vessel growth in the other eye. Are there any updates?

A: Yes. In fact, a recent analysis of two large, randomized clinical trials has cast doubt on this theory. In one trial, MARINA, patients were treated with monthly ranibizumab (0.3 or 0.5 mg) injections, and their outcomes were compared with patients receiving a sham injection.

The other study, ANCHOR, was the same except that the ranibizumab-treated groups were compared with patients who received photodynamic therapy (PDT).

In MARINA, among the group in which the study eye received 0.5-mg ranibizumab, new blood vessel growth (choroidal neovascularization; CNV) developed by two years in 38 percent of untreated eyes. These results were similar to those seen in the sham-treatment group, where 36 percent developed CNV in the untreated eye by year two.

In ANCHOR, among the group in which the study eye received 0.3 mg of ranibizumab, 24 percent of the untreated eyes developed CNV by year two, as did 35 percent of untreated eyes in the 0.5-mg ranibizumab group. In the PDT group, 39 percent of the untreated eyes developed CNV by year two.

Based on these findings, it seems very unlikely that ranibizumab has a systemic effect that would benefit the eye that does not receive direct intravitreal injections.

Publication Review By: Susan B. Bressler, M.D., Harry A. Quigley, M.D., Oliver D. Schein, M.D., M.P.H.

Published: 02 Mar 2011

Last Modified: 27 Jan 2015