What Is Lucentis® (ranibizumab)?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: May 2023

There are two kinds of age-related macular degeneration (AMD): dry AMD, in which light-sensitive photoreceptors and supporting retinal pigment cells in the macula break down; and wet AMD, in which abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina that can leak or bleed, causing damage.1

Sometimes this growth of abnormal blood vessels also occurs in myopic macular degeneration (MMD) and is similar to wet AMD. Though AMD and MMD are not curable, there are treatments to help slow progression of the disease and preserve existing vision.2

What is anti-VEGF therapy?

One of these treatments involves eye injections with medications known as anti-VEGF drugs. Anti-VEGF drugs bind or trap VEGF, which is a protein that stimulates the growth of blood vessels. When VEGF is produced in the eyes, it not only promotes the growth of new blood vessels, but these vessels tend to be abnormally weak and prone to leakage, which can cause damage to the retina and loss of vision.3

There are several anti-VEGF drugs. One of these is called Lucentis® (ranibizumab).4

How does Lucentis work?

Lucentis is given as an intravitreal injection, or injection into the eye. This is done in your doctor’s office. The drug binds to and inhibits VEGF, preventing it from promoting abnormal blood vessel growth. This helps to preserve your existing vision and slow the progression of wet AMD and MMD.4

What are the possible side effects?

As with any drug, Lucentis may cause side effects in some people. It is important to keep in mind that different people may react differently to a medication. Some people may experience side effects while others may not.4

If you have glaucoma or a history of blood clots or stroke, talk with your doctor before starting Lucentis.4

Common side effects can include:4

  • Eye pain or irritation
  • Eye redness
  • Floaters (temporary)
  • Mild blurred vision (for a day or two)
  • Cataracts

More serious complications may include:4

  • Retinal detachment
  • Infection
  • Vitreous hemorrhage (bleeding inside the eye)
  • Increased intraocular pressure
  • Blood clots or stroke

These are not all the possible side effects of Lucentis. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking Lucentis. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking Lucentis.

Things to know about Lucentis

Even though this is an eye injection, it can interact with other medications you are taking. Tell your doctor about any other medications you might be taking to avoid adverse interactions. Lucentis will not cure your wet AMD or MMD, but it can help preserve, and in some cases, improve your existing vision and slow the progression of the disease.4

If you are pregnant, might become pregnant, or nursing, tell your eye doctor.4

Before beginning treatment for macular degeneration, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

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