Skip to main menu Skip to main content Skip to footer



Avastin is a drug used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It is also used to treat diabetic eye disease and other problems of the retina. It is injected into the eye to help slow vision loss from these diseases.

Avastin is the brand name for the drug, which is called bevacizumab. It blocks the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the back of the eye. It also blocks the leakage of fluid from these blood vessels. The fluid leakage can affect vision, causing vision loss from wet AMD and diabetic eye disease.

Avastin was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat different types of cancer. Its use to treat eye disease is considered an “off-label” use. The FDA allows “off label” drug use if doctors are well informed about the product and studies prove the drug is helpful. Many studies have shown Avastin as safe and effective for eye disease since it was first used in 2005.

Lucentis® (ranibizumab), Eylea® (aflibercept) and Beovu® (brolucizumab) are other drugs like Avastin. Vabysmo™ (faricimab) is another anti-VEGF drug that also blocks an additional chemical in the eye called, angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2), that also causes leaky blood vessels. Research shows each of these drugs are effective in slowing vision loss.

How does Avastin work?

Abnormal blood vessels need a body chemical called VEGF to grow. Avastin blocks VEGF, slowing the growth of blood vessels in the eye. Drugs that block the trouble-causing VEGF are called anti-VEGF drugs.

What conditions are treated with Avastin?

Avastin is used to treat the following eye problems:

What happens during Avastin treatment?

During an outpatient procedure, your ophthalmologist first numbs the eye to block pain. Then your doctor injects the Avastin directly into your eye.

Before the procedure, your ophthalmologist will clean your eye to prevent infection and numb your eye with medicine. A very thin needle is passed through the white part of your eye and the drug is injected. Usually you do not see the needle itself. Depending on your eye condition, you may need to continue the injections for many months or even years.

Sometimes ophthalmologists will combine Avastin treatment with other treatments for the best chance of saving your vision.

What are the risks of Avastin treatment?

Every treatment can have side effects. It is important to understand the benefits and risks of any treatment you might have. 

Common side effects include:
Any eye injection, including Avastin, may cause these problems, which are very rare:

For about 24 hours after an injection, it is normal to feel like there is something in the eye, and to have mild eye pain and light sensitivity if your pupil was dilated. If these or any other side effects last longer, please contact your ophthalmologist right away. Eye redness or a bloody eye can last for a few days.

If you have any questions about your eyes or your vision, be sure to ask. Your ophthalmologist is committed to protecting your sight.

Information by David Turbert
Reviewed By Ninel Z Gregori, MD
Published Apr. 19, 2023

What is Avastin?

Avastin (bevacizumab) is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Avastin is used to treat a certain type of brain tumor, and certain types of cancers of the kidney, lung, colon and rectum. It is usually given as part of a combination of cancer medicines.

Avastin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information About Avastin

Avastin can make it easier for you to bleed. Contact your doctor or seek emergency medical attention if you have bleeding that will not stop. You may also have bleeding on the inside of your body, such as in your stomach or intestines, or in your brain.

Call your doctor at once if you have: signs of bleeding in your digestive tract– feeling very weak or dizzy, severe stomach pain, black or bloody stools, or if you cough up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds; or signs of bleeding in the brain–sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), sudden severe headache, slurred speech, or problems with vision or balance.

Avastin should not be used within 28 days before or after a planned surgery.

Avastin can also cause problems with wound healing, which could result in bleeding or infection. Call your doctor if you have signs of any skin infection (sudden redness, warmth, swelling, or oozing), or any skin wound or surgical incision that will not heal.

Avastin can cause a rare but serious neurologic disorder affecting the brain. Symptoms include headache, confusion, vision problems, feeling very weak or tired, fainting, and seizure (blackout or convulsions). These rare symptoms may occur within hours of your first dose of Avastin, or they may not appear for up to a year after your treatment started. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these side effects.

Some people receiving a Avastin injection have had a reaction to the infusion (when the medicine is injected into the vein). Tell your caregiver right away if you feel dizzy, nauseated, light-headed, sweaty, itchy, or have a fast heartbeat, chills, wheezing, or chest pain during the injection.

Avastin may cause a woman’s ovaries to stop working correctly. Symptoms of ovarian failure include 3 or more missed menstrual periods in a row. This may affect your fertility (ability to have children). Talk to your doctor about your specific risks.

Before Reveiving Avastin

You should not use Avastin if you are allergic to bevacizumab, or:

  • if you have slow healing of a skin wound or surgical incision;
  • if you have had surgery within the past 4 weeks (28 days);
  • if you have recently been coughing up blood; or
  • if you plan to have surgery within the next 4 weeks (28 days).

To make sure Avastin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • heart disease, high blood pressure;
  • a history of heart attack, stroke, or blood clots;
  • a bleeding or blood-clotting disorder; or
  • a history of stomach or intestinal bleeding, or perforation (a hole or tear) in your esophagus, stomach, or intestines.
  • FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether Avastin will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

Avastin may cause a woman’s ovaries to stop working correctly. Symptoms of ovarian failure include 3 or more missed menstrual periods in a row. This may affect your fertility (ability to have children). Talk to your doctor about your specific risks.

It is not known whether bevacizumab passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are being treated with Avastin.

Older adults may be more likely to have side effects from this medication.