Side Effects of Eylea: What You Need to Know


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Introduction

If you have certain eye conditions that can affect your vision, your doctor might suggest treatment with Eylea (aflibercept). Learning about the possible side effects of Eylea can help you decide if this treatment is something you’d like to try.

Eylea helps prevent loss of vision when used for the following eye conditions in adults. In many cases, the drug improves vision in those who use it.

  • wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • macular edema caused by a blockage in your retinal vein
  • diabetic retinopathy
  • diabetic macular edema

With all of these conditions, you have leaky blood vessels inside your eye. Eylea is a biologic medication that helps stop the blood vessels in your eye from leaking. A biologic medication is made in a lab using living cells.

A healthcare professional will give you Eylea by injecting it into your eye. You’ll typically have the injection once every 4 or 8 weeks on a long-term basis.

For more information about Eylea, including details about its uses, see this in-depth article on the drug.

Like other drugs, Eylea injections can cause mild or serious side effects. Keep reading to learn more.

What are the more common side effects of Eylea?

Some people may experience mild or serious side effects during their Eylea treatment. Examples of Eylea’s most commonly reported side effects include:

  • eye pain
  • eye redness caused by bleeding from a blood vessel on the surface of your eye
  • seeing floaters (small squiggly lines or dark spots that float across your vision)
  • vitreous detachment*
  • cataracts*

* To learn more about this side effect, see “Side effects explained” below.

Other side effects are also possible with Eylea. Read on to find out more.

What are the mild side effects of Eylea?

Examples of mild side effects that have been reported with Eylea include:

  • eye pain
  • eye redness caused by bleeding from a blood vessel on the surface of your eye
  • seeing floaters (small squiggly lines or dark spots that float across your vision)
  • vitreous detachment*
  • blurry vision*
  • feeling like something is in your eye
  • watery eyes
  • swelling of your eyelid
  • increased pressure in your eye
  • cataracts*

* To learn more about this side effect, see “Side effects explained” below.

In most cases, these side effects should be temporary. And some may be easily managed, too. But if you have any symptoms that are ongoing or that bother you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. And don’t stop using Eylea unless your doctor tells you to.

Eylea may cause mild side effects other than the ones listed above. To learn more, see the Eylea prescribing information.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Eylea, visit MedWatch.

What are the serious side effects of Eylea?

On rare occasions, serious side effects may happen with Eylea. Examples of serious side effects that have been reported with Eylea include:

  • endophthalmitis (infection inside your eye)*
  • retinal tear or detachment*
  • blood clots that could cause a heart attack or stroke
  • allergic reaction*

* To learn more about this side effect, see “Side effects explained” below.

If you develop serious side effects during Eylea treatment, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

FAQs about Eylea’s side effects

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Eylea’s side effects.

Does Eylea cause any long-term side effects?

It might. Eylea can increase the pressure in your eye after you have an injection. This most commonly happens for a short time in the hour after having an injection.

But sometimes, long-term treatment with Eylea can cause a long-term increase in the pressure in your eye. High pressure in your eye can damage your optic nerve (the nerve that sends messages from your eye to your brain). This can eventually lead to vision loss.

A healthcare professional will check the pressure in your eye after you have each injection. If needed, you’ll be given medication to decrease the pressure in your eye. If you have a long-term increase in eye pressure, prescription eye drops may help decrease this pressure. You might need to take these eye drops regularly.

Eylea can also cause cataracts, which are cloudy areas that develop on the lens of your eye. They can affect your vision. If you develop cataracts, these can get progressively worse over time unless they are treated with surgery. See “Side effects explained” below to read more about cataracts.

How long do side effects from Eylea typically last?

Most mild side effects from Eylea typically go away on their own within a few days or a couple of weeks. These include blurry vision, sensitivity to light, seeing floaters (small squiggly lines or dark spots that float across your vision), or watery eyes. If you have mild side effects that last longer than this, talk with your doctor.

But if you have the following side effects, don’t wait for them to get better on their own. Contact your doctor right away if you have:

  • changes in your vision, such as your vision getting blurrier or darker
  • a sudden increase in the number of floaters you see
  • seeing flashes of light
  • eye pain or redness that doesn’t lessen or gets worse
  • increased sensitivity to light

These symptoms could suggest you have a retinal detachment or infection in your eye. These are serious side effects of Eylea that need emergency treatment.

Most people recover fully from a retinal detachment or infection in the eye, provided treatment is given quickly enough. See “Side effects explained” below to read more about retinal detachment and infection in the eye.

Can I drive after having Eylea injections?

No, you shouldn’t drive after having an Eylea injection. You’ll need to arrange for someone to drive you home. This is because having the injection can affect your vision for a while.

Before you have an Eylea injection, your eye doctor may use drops that dilate (widen) your pupil so they can examine your eye. These can make your eyes more sensitive to light. So you’ll need to wear dark glasses until the drops wear off. Eylea injections can also cause blurry vision or other changes to your vision.

Eylea’s manufacturer has a program that can help you get a ride home from your injection appointment. For more information, visit the drug website and scroll down to the section “Need a ride? Rides in Sight can help.” You can also call 855-607-4337.

Do Eylea injections hurt?

They don’t usually. Your eye doctor will use medicated drops to numb your eye before giving the injection. You may have some temporary pain in your eye after these drops wear off. Ask your eye doctor to recommend a pain reliever if needed.

If you have eye pain that doesn’t go away or starts to get worse after an Eylea injection, contact your doctor right away. This could be a symptom of an infection in your eye, which will need to be treated. See “Side effects explained” below to read more about eye infection.

Side effects explained

Learn more about some of the side effects Eylea may cause.

Blurry vision

You may have blurry vision after having an Eylea injection. Blurry vision was fairly common in studies of Eylea.

Blurry vision usually goes away after a while. But it can sometimes be a symptom of a serious side effect such as endophthalmitis (infection in your eye) or retinal detachment. (Find out more about these two side effects in the next sections.)

Contact your doctor right away if you also have any of the following symptoms with blurry vision. These could suggest you have endophthalmitis or retinal detachment:

  • eye pain or redness
  • increased sensitivity to light
  • suddenly seeing lots of floaters (small squiggly lines or dark spots that float across your vision)
  • seeing flashes of light

What might help

If you have blurry vision, don’t drive or operate dangerous machines until your vision improves. Talk with your doctor if your vision doesn’t go back to normal within a few days.

If you have endophthalmitis or retinal detachment, you’ll need to seek treatment. Find out more about these two side effects in the next sections.

Endophthalmitis (infection inside your eye)

There’s a small risk of endophthalmitis with Eylea. This is a risk with all injections into your eye. Endophthalmitis happened only rarely in studies of Eylea.

Endophthalmitis is a medical emergency that can lead to loss of vision if it’s not treated.

Contact your doctor right away if you have symptoms of an infection in your eye after an Eylea injection. These may include:

  • blurry vision
  • eye pain or redness
  • increased sensitivity to light

What might help

A healthcare professional will take special precautions and use sterile conditions to help prevent eye infections when giving you Eylea injections. They’ll clean your eye with a disinfectant eyewash before giving the injection. Don’t wear makeup to your injection appointment.

If you have endophthalmitis, your doctor will treat this as needed. You may be given an injection of antibiotics into your eye. Your doctor might also prescribe antibiotics that work throughout your body (such as tablets) and antibiotic eye drops or ointment. It’s important to use these as instructed by your eye doctor.

Retinal tear or detachment

There’s a small risk of retinal tear or detachment with Eylea. With a retinal tear or detachment, your retina becomes separated from the back of your eyeball. Your retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye. It changes light into signals that are sent to your brain to produce your vision.

Retinal tear or detachment is a risk with all injections into your eye. But this side effect happened only rarely in studies of Eylea.

A retinal tear or detachment is a medical emergency that can lead to loss of vision if it’s not treated right away. Contact your doctor immediately if you have symptoms of retinal tear or detachment after having an Eylea injection. These may include:

  • blurry vision
  • seeing a dark shadow across your vision
  • suddenly seeing lots of floaters (small squiggly lines or dark spots that float across your vision)
  • seeing flashes of light

What might help

If you have a retinal tear or detachment, you’ll usually need surgery to treat the problem. Tell your doctor about any concerns you may have regarding these possible side effects of Eylea.

Vitreous detachment

You may have vitreous detachment with Eylea injections. This side effect was commonly reported in studies of Eylea.

Unlike retinal detachment (see the section just above), vitreous detachment isn’t serious. It happens when the vitreous humor (the jelly-like substance inside your eyeball) pulls away from your retina. It doesn’t cause pain or vision loss.

Symptoms of vitreous detachment are temporary and may include:

  • seeing flashes of light
  • seeing floaters (small squiggly lines or dark spots that float across your vision)
  • feeling like you’re looking through a cobweb

What might help

Vitreous detachment doesn’t usually need treatment. But if you have any vision changes, you should tell your doctor so they can check for serious problems.

Cataracts

Some people may develop cataracts with Eylea injections. This side effect was commonly reported in studies of Eylea.

Cataracts are cloudy areas that develop in the lens of your eye. They reduce the amount of light that can reach your retina. Cataracts can gradually interfere with your vision and may eventually lead to blindness if not treated.

Talk with your doctor if you have symptoms of cataracts. These may include:

  • blurry vision
  • seeing colors as faded
  • trouble seeing at night
  • increased sensitivity to glare
  • seeing halos around lights
  • double vision in the affected eye

What might help

If you have cataracts, ask your doctor about the best ways to manage this condition. For example, they may recommend wearing stronger glasses or sunglasses with an anti-glare coating.

Depending on whether cataracts make your usual activities more difficult, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove them. Cataract surgery is a very common procedure that has a high success rate.

If you’re concerned about your risk for cataracts with Eylea, talk with your doctor.

Allergic reaction

Like most drugs, Eylea can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Symptoms can be mild or serious and can include:

  • rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What might help

If you have mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may suggest an over-the-counter antihistamine you take by mouth, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), or a product you apply to your skin, such as hydrocortisone cream, to manage your symptoms.

If your doctor confirms you had a mild allergic reaction to Eylea, they’ll decide if you should continue using it.

If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.

If your doctor confirms you had a serious allergic reaction to Eylea, they may have you switch to a different treatment.

Keeping track of side effects

During your Eylea treatment, consider keeping notes on any side effects you’re having. Then you can share this information with your doctor. This is especially helpful to do when you first start taking new drugs or using a combination of treatments.

Your side effect notes can include things such as:

  • how soon after starting treatment you had the side effect
  • what your symptoms were from the side effect
  • how it affected your daily activities
  • what other medications you were also taking
  • any other information you feel is important

Keeping notes and sharing them with your doctor will help your doctor learn more about how Eylea affects you. Your doctor can use this information to adjust your treatment plan if needed.

Warnings for Eylea

Eylea may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you receive Eylea. Factors to consider include those in the list below.

Infection in or around your eye. If you have an eye or eyelid infection, it will need to be treated before you have Eylea treatment. Your doctor will monitor you for any symptoms of an eye infection, and then recommend treatments. You can start Eylea treatment once the infection goes away.

Inflammation in your eye. If you have eye inflammation (red, swollen, or painful eye), it will need to be treated before you can receive Eylea. Before you start Eylea treatment, your doctor will examine your eyes for signs of inflammation and treat it if present.

Glaucoma. Eylea can increase the pressure in your eye. If you have glaucoma, Eylea could make your condition worse. Talk with your doctor about whether Eylea is right for you.

Heart disease. In rare cases, Eylea may cause blood clots that could lead to a heart attack or stroke. If you have heart disease, talk with your doctor about whether Eylea is right for you.

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Eylea or any of its ingredients, you shouldn’t receive Eylea. Ask your doctor which other medications are better options for you.

Alcohol use and Eylea

Alcohol isn’t known to affect Eylea. But if you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much is safe to drink with Eylea.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while receiving Eylea

It’s not known if Eylea is safe to use during pregnancy. In animal studies, Eylea caused fetal harm when used during pregnancy. But animal studies don’t always predict what will happen in humans. If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about the possible risks of having Eylea injections.

It’s not known if Eylea passes into breast milk or if it can affect a child who’s breastfed. It’s not usually recommended during breastfeeding. If you’re breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, talk with your doctor about your treatment options.

What to ask your doctor

Eylea’s most common side effects are usually mild. But some, such as cataracts or increased pressure in your eye, can be long term or need additional treatment. And as with all drugs, there’s a rare risk of serious side effects.

It’s important to talk with your doctor about your risk for side effects with Eylea. This can help you decide if the potential benefits of the injections are worth the risks.

Examples of some questions you might want to ask your doctor include:

  • Am I more likely to have side effects if both of my eyes are treated with Eylea?
  • How common are cataracts with Eylea?
  • Does having high blood pressure increase my risk for heart attack or stroke with Eylea?
  • Can Eylea make my vision worse?

Ask a pharmacist

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.


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