Eylea (aflibercept) is a biologic drug prescribed to help prevent vision loss in certain situations. It’s a liquid solution given by healthcare professionals as an injection into the eye, usually every 4 weeks.
Eylea is specifically used in adults to slow down the progression of vision loss from:
- wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which happens because of damage to your retina (area inside the back of your eye that senses light)
- diabetic retinopathy, which happens because of damage to your retina that’s due to diabetes
- macular edema (swelling caused by leakage of blood and fluid into your macula, which is the center of your retina) that’s caused by either:
To learn more about how Eylea can help you maintain your vision with these conditions, see the “What is Eylea used for?” section below.
Eylea contains the active drug aflibercept. It belongs to a group of drugs called vascular endothelial growth factor blockers.
Aflibercept is a biologic medication, which means it’s made from parts of living cells. Aflibercept isn’t available as a biosimilar drug. (Biosimilars are like generic drugs. But unlike generics, which are made for nonbiologic drugs, biosimilars are made for biologic drugs.) Instead, aflibercept comes only as the brand-name drug Eylea.
Like most drugs, Eylea may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that Eylea may cause. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.
Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:
- your age
- other health conditions you have
- other medications you may be taking
Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Eylea. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.
Mild side effects
Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that Eylea can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Eylea’s prescribing information.
Mild side effects of Eylea that have been reported include:
- bleeding in the eye
- eye pain
- cataracts, which occur when your lens becomes cloudy and doesn’t let as much light into your eye
- vitreous detachment, which occurs when your retina (area inside the back of your eye that senses light) detaches from your vitreous humor (gel-like center inside your eye)
- seeing floaters*
- blurry vision*
Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
* For more information on this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from Eylea can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Eylea, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects of Eylea that have been reported include:
- retinal tear and detachment, which happens when your retina detaches from the back of your eye
- endophthalmitis, which is an infection of the fluids or tissues inside your eye
- heart or blood vessel problems, such as stroke*
- increased pressure in your eye
- allergic reaction*
* For more information on this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.
Side effect focus
Learn more about some of the side effects Eylea may cause. You can also see this comprehensive article about Eylea’s side effects.
Heart or blood vessel problems, such as stroke
After receiving an Eylea injection, you may be at risk for blood clots. Blood clots can sometimes cause stroke, heart attack, or a lack of blood flow to certain areas of the body.
In studies, these side effects weren’t common in people using Eylea.
What might help
Before starting Eylea treatment, discuss the symptoms of heart attack and stroke with your doctor.
- pain or discomfort in your chest
- feeling weak, lightheaded, or faint
- breaking out in a cold sweat
- pain or discomfort in your jaw, neck, back, or one or both of your arms
- shortness of breath
- sudden numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, usually occurring on one side of the body
- sudden confusion, or trouble speaking or understanding speech
- sudden problems with seeing in one or both of your eyes
- sudden trouble walking
- sudden dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
- sudden severe headache
If you have any of these symptoms after getting Eylea, seek emergency medical care right away. Call 911 or your local emergency number. Or, have someone take you to the nearest emergency room.
After receiving Eylea, you may have squiggly lines or small dark spots in your vision. These lines and spots float across your vision, so they’re called floaters.
Often, floaters disappear after a while. And they don’t usually affect your vision.
But sometimes, floaters can be a sign of a serious eye condition such as retinal tear or detachment. And these conditions are possible side effects of Eylea. (With retinal tear and detachment, your retina detaches from the back of your eye.)
What might help
Most often, floaters don’t require treatment. And they’ll usually disappear on their own.
Tell your doctor if you have symptoms that may suggest a more serious eye condition, such as a retinal tear. Symptoms of a retinal tear can include:
- having a lot of new floaters that appear suddenly
- seeing flashes of light that appear suddenly
- seeing a dark shadow
- having blurred vision
After receiving an Eylea injection, you can have blurry vision. This side effect may disappear after a while. But, blurry vision can also be a symptom of endophthalmitis, which is a possible serious side effect of Eylea.
With endophthalmitis, you have a severe infection in the gel-like material inside the center of your eye.
What might help
To be safe, don’t drive after receiving an Eylea injection. Only drive or use machinery when your vision is back to normal and it’s no longer blurry.
Be sure to tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms of endophthalmitis. In addition to blurry vision, these symptoms may include:
- eye pain
- redness of your eye
- sensitivity to light
If you have an infection in your eye, your doctor will treat it as needed. And be sure to tell your doctor if you have blurry vision that doesn’t go away after getting Eylea injections.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to Eylea. If you’ve had an allergic reaction in the past to aflibercept (the active drug in Eylea) or any of the other ingredients in Eylea, you cannot take this medication.
Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:
- skin rash
- flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. Allergic reaction can also cause severe inflammation in the eye. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.
Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Eylea. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and whether you get the drug from a pharmacy or it’s administered by your doctor.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also visit the Eylea manufacturer’s website to see if they have support options.
Find answers to some commonly asked questions about Eylea.
Is Eylea similar to either Avastin or Lucentis?
Eylea, Avastin, and Lucentis all belong to a group of drugs called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) blockers. But they don’t all have the same uses.
Lucentis is used for eye conditions similar to those of Eylea. And like Eylea, it’s also given as an intravitreal injection, which is an injection into the eye.
Avastin, on the other hand, is used for certain types of cancer such as kidney cancer and advanced colon cancer. Avastin may sometimes be considered for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). But AMD is an off-label use for Avastin. With off-label use, a drug that’s approved to treat one condition is prescribed for another condition it’s not approved to treat.
Unlike Eylea and Lucentis, Avastin is given by intravenous (IV) infusion, which is an injection into your vein that’s given over a period of time.
As a VEGF blocker, Avastin prevents the formation of new blood vessels in areas of the body with cancer cells. This process starves the cells of oxygen and nutrients and can lead to cancer cell death. Eylea and Lucentis also block VEGF. At high levels, VEGF can cause abnormal blood vessels to grow in your eye and cause fluid leakage. By blocking VEGF, these drugs can decrease fluid leakage into your macula, which is the center of your retina.
To learn more about Lucentis, see this in-depth article. And check out this article for more information about Avastin.
What’s the success rate of treatment with Eylea?
Success rates with Eylea treatment can be different for each person and for each eye condition that’s being treated.
For example, in studies, more people with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) had their vision preserved than people in other studies with macular edema. (For more information about wet AMD and macular edema, see the “What is Eylea used for?” section below.)
Talk with your doctor to find out Eylea’s possible success rate for your condition.
How does Eylea work?
Eylea works by blocking the process that causes blood vessels to leak in the back of your eye. The drug also prevents new blood vessels from forming around your retina. (Your retina is located in the back of your eye and is responsible for sensing light.)
Keep in mind that Eylea doesn’t cure eye conditions, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). But, the drug can slow down the progression of AMD, and other conditions, and help you keep your vision.
Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Eylea that’s right for you. Below are commonly used dosages, but the dosage you receive will be determined by your doctor.
Forms and strength
Eylea comes as a solution inside single-use vials and prefilled syringes. It’s available in one strength: 2 milligrams (mg) per 0.05 milliliters (mL).
Depending on why you’re taking Eylea, your doctor will prescribe an appropriate dosing schedule for you.
For example, if you have:
- Wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), you’ll receive an Eylea injection in your eye once every 4 weeks (about every 28 days) for the first 3 months of treatment. Then, your doctor may recommend that you get a dose once every 8 weeks. But, some people may need to stay on a 4-week dosing schedule. After a year of treatment, your doctor may change your dosing schedule to receiving the drug once every 12 weeks.
- Diabetic retinopathy or diabetic macular edema, you’ll start Eylea treatment with an injection in your eye once every 4 weeks for the first 5 months. Then, your doctor may recommend that you get an injection once every 4 or 8 weeks.
- Macular edema that’s caused by a vein blockage, you’ll receive one Eylea injection in your eye once every 4 weeks.
For more information about wet AMD, diabetic retinopathy, and macular edema, see the “What is Eylea used for?” section below.
Questions about Eylea’s dosing
Below are some common questions about Eylea’s dosing.
- What if I miss a dose of Eylea? It’s important that you don’t miss any doses of Eylea. If you miss an appointment with your doctor to get your dose of the drug, call your doctor’s office right away. Their medical staff can help you reschedule your appointment. Keep in mind that stopping Eylea treatment may cause your eye condition to get worse.
- Will I need to use Eylea long term? The conditions that Eylea treats are long-lasting diseases and they may require long-term use of Eylea. Ask your doctor how long you’ll need to use Eylea.
- Should I take Eylea with food? Eylea is injected into your eye. So, how well your body absorbs the drug isn’t affected by eating. You can have either a full or empty stomach when you receive Eylea.
- How long does Eylea take to work? Every person will respond differently to Eylea treatment. Ask your doctor how long you’ll need to wait before the treatment starts working for you. Your doctor will monitor your vision throughout your treatment. You can also monitor your vision at home using the Amsler grid test.
Your doctor will explain how you’ll be given Eylea. They’ll also explain how much you’ll be given and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for receiving doses of Eylea.
Eylea comes as a solution inside single-use vials and prefilled syringes. Your doctor will give Eylea to you as an intravitreal injection, which is an injection into your eye.
Taking Eylea with other drugs
Before injecting Eylea into your eye, your doctor will give you medications to numb pain and prevent infection.
Talk with your doctor about which drugs they’ll use for these purposes.
Questions for your doctor
You may have questions about Eylea and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.
Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:
- Before your appointment, write down questions like:
- How will Eylea affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
- Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
- If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.
Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.
If you have certain eye problems, your doctor may prescribe Eylea to help prevent loss of your vision.
Eylea is used in adults to slow down the progression of vision loss from:
- Wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Wet AMD occurs in older adults. It affects the central part of your visual field. With this condition, it’s possible to lose your vision due to damage to your macula. The macula is the center part of your retina, which is an area in the back of your eye that senses light.
- Diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. Diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema are two conditions that occur in people with diabetes. With these conditions, fluid and blood leak from damaged blood vessels into your retina or macula and cause swelling. This can destroy the cells in those areas and affect your vision.
- Macular edema after retinal vein blockage. With macular edema, fluid and blood leak into your macula and cause swelling. And this can affect your vision. This condition can happen when a vein in your eye is blocked, which often occurs because of a blood clot. There are two types of vein blockages that can occur:
- central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO), which happens when your central retinal vein is blocked
- branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO), which happens when a branch of the central vein is blocked
Aflibercept, the active drug in Eylea, is a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor. VEGF is a protein that’s responsible for causing leaky blood vessels and helping to develop new blood vessels inside the eye.
Eylea targets VEGF and blocks its actions on blood vessels. This helps to slow down vision loss from the conditions listed above.
Some important things to discuss with your doctor when considering treatment with Eylea include:
- your overall health
- any medical conditions you may have
Also, be sure to tell your doctor if you’re taking any medications, herbs, vitamins, or supplements.
Taking medications, vaccines, foods, and other things with a certain drug can affect how the drug works. These effects are called interactions.
Drug interactions aren’t expected with Eylea. And it’s not known which drugs interact with Eylea. But it’s still important to tell your doctor about any medications, herbs, or vitamins you’re using. This is important because some of these products may interfere with how well Eylea works.
Before taking Eylea, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter types. Also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with Eylea.
Eylea may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Eylea. Factors to consider include those in the list below.
- Infection in or around your eye. You cannot start using Eylea if you have an infection in or around your eye. Your doctor will wait for the infection to go away before having you start treatment with Eylea.
- Inflammation in your eye. Your doctor will check your eyes for inflammation before prescribing Eylea for you. You cannot use Eylea if you have inflammation in your eye. This is because getting Eylea injections may increase the pressure inside your eye and cause severe problems.
- Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Eylea or any of its ingredients, you should not take Eylea. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.
Use with alcohol
Some medications interact with alcohol. But Eylea isn’t one of them.
If you drink alcohol, before starting Eylea, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it’s safe for you to drink alcohol.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
It’s not known whether Eylea is harmful if used during pregnancy. It’s also unknown if Eylea passes into breast milk and whether it would be harmful for a breastfed child.
Talk with your doctor about pregnancy and breastfeeding if you’re considering treatment with Eylea.
If you have questions about using Eylea, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They may tell you about other treatments you can use for your condition.
Some possible questions to ask your doctor about Eylea treatment include:
- Will Eylea cure my wet age-related macular degeneration?
- Can I develop glaucoma from using Eylea?
- If my diabetes were better managed, could the damage to my eyes be reversed?
- How can I reduce my anxiety about receiving an Eylea injection into my eye?
To learn more about Eylea, see this article:
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Which vitamins or supplements can I take to help preserve my vision?Anonymous
Some vitamins and supplements may help preserve your vision and slow the worsening of your vision due to certain eye conditions.
Vitamins A, B, C, and E all play an important role in maintaining healthy vision. For instance:
- Vitamin A helps maintain a clear cornea, which is the outside covering of your eye.
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine) helps ensure proper cell function, including the eye cells, and makes energy for the cells in your eyes.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) acts as an antioxidant, which fights free radicals in your body. (Free radicals are compounds that can cause harm, including harm to your eyes, if their levels are too high in your body.)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin) acts as an antioxidant and also makes energy for the cells in your eyes.
- Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 work together to lower levels of homocysteine, which is a protein in your body that may be associated with inflammation, including inflammation in your eyes.
- Vitamins C and E are powerful antioxidants that may protect your eyes against damaging free radicals.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin act as antioxidants and help filter potentially harmful blue light, protecting your eyes from damage.
If you’d like to know more about vitamins and supplements that help with vision, talk with your doctor. And before taking any vitamins or supplements, always be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist.The Healthline Pharmacist TeamAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.