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New Anti-VEGF Antibody Therapies in Ophthalmology

Michael W Stewart, MD

The incidence of blindness in economically developed countries has significantly decreased over the last 40 years because of improvements in cataract surgery instrumentation and techniques, and the development of effective and affordable anti-glaucoma drugs. As a result, chorioretinal vascular diseases, primarily age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy, have emerged as the leading causes of blindness [1,2]. For decades, treatment of these conditions with thermal laser photocoagulation produced relatively few improvements in vision, thereby frustrating both surgeons and patients [3]. However, improved understanding of the pathogenesis of these vascular conditions coupled with advances in biochemistry during the past 20 years has uncovered the critical importance of angiogenesis and vascular hyperpermeability in causing vision loss. Many of these advances stemmed from the discovery of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), an inflammatory cytokine essential for angiogenesis [4].

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