Wet age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) and diabetic macular edema (DME) are two of the most common sight threatening conditions that plague people worldwide. Although their underlying mechanisms differ, their disease processes and outcomes can follow a similar path, both leading to decreased central vision caused by swelling and bleeding of the macula. For the past two decades, retina specialists have been injecting medications into the eye to slow or halt swelling and bleeding. Until now, the medications used have targeted vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a specific component of our vessels that, when released, can cause fluid leakage.
Vabysmo (faricimab-svoa), a new medication FDA approved in 2022, is the first and only eye injection approved for both nAMD and DME. It not only targets VEGF, but also an additional factor, angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2). This two-pronged approach is novel in the industry, and may offer Vabysmo an advantage over the current approved medications, as it showed improved action over the competition in clinical trials.
Also, read our blog about A Breakthrough for Dry Macular Degeneration
Another advantage of Vabysmo is its dosing schedule. Traditionally, patients are treated every four weeks until the disease is stabilized, decreasing the frequency as tolerated. Vabysmo showed near equal effectiveness when dosed every eight weeks, with 80% of nAMD patients remaining stable at even 12 and 16 week dosing. This is significant because the frequency of eye doctor visits can place a burden on patients who have difficulty getting to the doctor or less access to care. Aside from the possibility of improved clinical outcomes, less time at the doctor also means more time with family and time spent doing the things they love.
Although a promising new treatment option for a leading cause of vision loss, Vabysmo is not without its limitations and precautions. As with any eye injection, side effects such as inflammation, eye pressure changes, and infection remain. This being said, the risks are low and should not dissuade one from seeking care, as delaying the appropriate treatment often leads to a worsening of the disease process. Vabysmo also showed a slightly increased side effect profile when compared to similar medications, with a greater percent of patients reporting floaters and eye irritation.
The medication preferred will ultimately depend on particular conditions, insurance coverage, availability, and the preference of the retinal specialist. Not everyone will be a good candidate for Vabysmo, but the advancement is another step in the right direction for patient care and offers additional options for providers in preserving the vision and quality of life for people suffering from nAMD and DME. For more information, talk to your doctor and/or see the links below.