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What Is Ranibizumab?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 04 August 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Ranibizumab is a medication a doctor may recommend to treat wet macular degeneration, where blood vessels develop under the retina and leak, causing vision loss. The doctor provides the medication in a clinical setting every month, and may later switch to a three month dosing schedule if the patient responds well. This is one option for treating wet macular degeneration, and before taking the medication patients may want to ask about alternatives and the risks and benefits of each.

This drug is a monoclonal antibody, a human antibody produced in a lab setting with the use of identical cells that all express the same antibody. It comes in a liquid for injection directly into the vitreous humor of the eye. To administer the drug, the doctor will first numb the eye to make the patient comfortable, and then perform the injection. Some patients find the process uncomfortable, and it can help to bring a distraction.

The ranibizumab works by inhibiting the formation of new blood vessels. Without fresh vessels, the macular degeneration should stabilize. Patients may notice a rapid increase in interocular pressure after the injection, a common side effect that can be a cause for concern. Receiving the medication in a doctor's offices allows for a chance to report immediate bad reactions right away so the doctor can treat them, and patients should discuss any discomfort or vision changes they notice after their injections.

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Other potential ranibizumab side effects can include infections in the eye as well as eye pain and detached retina. The doctor must exercise a great deal of control during the injection to get the drug in the right place, and it is important for patients to hold still. If the patient is nervous, she should bring this up so the doctor can provide appropriate accommodations. In the event of a bad reaction to the injection, the doctor will recommend changing to a different drug in the hopes that it will be more successful.

The cost for ranibizumab can be very high, and patients may want to check with their insurance providers if they have concerns about affordability. For patients worried about cost, the doctor can discuss available options, including different treatment protocols. It may also be possible to access vouchers or other forms of payment assistance to partially cover the cost of a drug if a patient has low income and cannot afford the ranibizumab treatment.

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