Through the provincial program, B.C. patients have access to anti-VEGF drugs when they have been diagnosed with one of the following three conditions:
wAMD is a chronic eye disease that causes blurred vision or a blind spot in your visual field. It’s generally caused by abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid or blood into the macula. The macula is in the part of the retina responsible for central vision. Early detection and treatment of macular degeneration may help reduce vision loss and, in some instances, recover vision.
DME is an accumulation of fluid in the macula from leaking blood vessels. To develop DME, you must first have diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a disease that damages the blood vessels in the retina, resulting in vision impairment.
RVO is a blockage of the veins in the retina that carry blood away from the eye. The blockage can cause fluid to leak into the macula. The blockage caused by RVO cannot be reversed, but there are ways in which it can be managed, using treatments that may slow down the progression of vision loss and even improve vision.
B.C. patients who have been diagnosed with one of the above conditions have access to the following anti-VEGF drugs:
- bevacizumab (Avastin)
- ranibizumab (Lucentis)
- aflibercept (Eylea)
This program also provides coverage for verteporfin (Visudyne) with photodynamic therapy for wet age-related macular degeneration (wAMD).
New patients can access the treatments through a referral from a physician or optometrist to a retinal specialist. Retinal specialist services are available in all regional health authorities. Patients are urged to talk with the retinal specialist regarding the benefits and risks of the treatments.
The 29 retinal specialists participating in the Provincial Retinal Diseases Treatment Program collaborate with PHSA and the Ministry of Health to ensure the planning, coordination, accessibility, quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of the provincial program.