What Is Pegaptanib Used For?
Pegaptanib is used for treating age-related wet macular degeneration, a serious condition that affects the eye. By preventing a certain protein from encouraging abnormal blood vessel growth in the back of the eye, the medication can slow down or even reverse vision loss and macular damage. It is not approved for use in children, and there are currently no universally accepted off-label pegaptanib uses.
Pegaptanib sodium (Macugen®) is a prescription medication approved to treat age-related wet macular degeneration. Like most medications for wet macular degeneration, it is injected directly into the eye.
What Is Macular Degeneration?Age-related macular degeneration (also known as AMD or just macular degeneration) is a common eye disease that is associated with aging. It causes blurring of the sharp, central vision you need for "straight-ahead" activities, such as reading or driving (see Macular Degeneration and Driving). The causes of macular degeneration are currently unknown. However, certain risk factors (such as obesity and smoking) increase the likelihood of developing the disease. Macular degeneration may be genetic to some extent as well (see Macular Degeneration Genetics).
If the loss of these light-sensing cells in the macula becomes significant, people may see a small (but growing) blind spot in the center of their field of vision. Over time, the blurred spot may get bigger and darker, taking up more of your central vision. You may have difficulty reading or recognizing faces until they are very close to you.
There are two types of macular degeneration. About 90 percent of people with the disease have what's known as the "dry" type, and the remaining 10 percent have the "wet" type. However, wet macular degeneration is more damaging and accounts for 90 percent of all blindness associated with the disease.
In wet macular degeneration, new blood vessels grow behind the macula. Because these blood vessels tend to be fragile, they will often leak blood and fluid under the macula. This causes rapid damage to the macula, which can lead to the loss of central vision in a short period of time. Wet macular degeneration symptoms include straight lines appearing crooked and a blind spot in the center of your vision.
With wet macular degeneration, loss of central vision can occur quickly. This is a more advanced form of the disease, and is more severe than dry macular degeneration.
Wet macular degeneration treatment may include:
- Photodynamic therapy
- Laser surgery (see Surgery for Macular Degeneration)
- Injections (including pegaptanib).