Eye conditionThe National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published final guidance recommending aflibercept solution for injection as an option for treating wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Wet AMD is an eye condition that affects the macula (a tiny part of the retina at the back of the eye). AMD causes problems with central vision – for example, straight lines may appear wavy and blind spots may develop in the field of vision. Macular degeneration is diagnosed as either dry (non-neovascular) or wet (neovascular). Neovascular refers to growth of new blood vessels in an area, such as the macula, where they are not supposed to be.

There are an estimated 26,000 new cases of wet AMD in the UK each year. Risk factors include increasing age, cigarette smoking (smokers having a 3.6 times greater risk of developing age-related macular degeneration compared with people who have never smoked), and exposure to high levels of UV light. It is also more common in women than men. Aflibercept is recommended as an option for treating wet age related macular degeneration only if: it is used in accordance with the recommendations for ranibizumab in NICE technology appraisal guidance 155i (re issued in May 2012), and the manufacturer provides aflibercept solution for injection to the NHS under the terms agreed with the Department of Health as part of a patient access scheme.

Professor Carole Longson, Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director at NICE, said: "Wet AMD can have a significant impact on vision, independence and quality of life. Today’s guidance, which comes soon after aflibercept received its licence, provides healthcare professionals with clear advice on where and when this treatment can add value as another treatment option for those affected by this distressing condition.”