On February 23, 2020, the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) warned members about the side effects of Beovu, an injectable drug used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration. The organization reported results from a study revealing side effects of retinal vasculitis and the more serious retinal artery occlusion.
Beovu (brolucizumab) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on October 7, 2019. In this short time since its approval, administration of the drug has resulted in 14 cases of negative eye conditions, which can lead to eye inflammation, vision loss, blindness—and even stroke. By now, the number of reported cases has surely seen a marked increase.
Retinal artery occlusionRetinal artery occlusion happens when a blood vessel that carries blood to your retina suffers some form of blockage. The layer of nerve tissues that make up your retina convert images into electrical signals that your optic nerve then transmits to your brain. This is what gives you sight.
When your retina fails to get the oxygen it needs to conduct these vital tasks, you can suffer severe vision loss. The extent of this loss correlates with the part of your retina that has been impacted by the blockage.
Branch Retinal Artery Occlusion (BRAO)
In some cases, a small retinal artery becomes blocked. At most, you might experience a loss of a portion of your visual field—perhaps on one side of your eye. In some cases, with the right positioning (not central), BRAO carries no symptoms.
Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (CRAO)
If your ophthalmic artery is blocked, you face more extensive damage. The ophthalmic artery is the main artery that supplies blood to your eye. When this artery is blocked, the condition is referred to as central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO). ASRS reports that one-quarter of individuals who develop this occlusion have a cilioretinal artery—essentially, a back-up artery—that can help to minimize vision damage by bringing in needed oxygen to the retina.
But most people are not this fortunate, and they suffer tremendous losses to vision—and possibly more.
Adding to these concerns, according to John Hopkins Medicine, CRAO poses additional medical risks for patients. If a blood clot happens in your retina and breaks free, the clot can travel to the brain, causing a stroke.
What to Watch For
CRAO develops painlessly, but it does carry unmistakable symptoms. Anyone who takes Beovu should be vigilant in monitoring themselves for the onset of these signs:
- Eyesight in one eye suddenly becomes blurry.
- You suddenly experience blindness in one eye.
- You experience a steady loss of eyesight in one eye over a period of several weeks.
If you note any of these signs or symptoms, see your medical provider immediately.