Oman Journal of Ophthalmology

: 2015  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 61--63

Tremendous result of bevacizumab in malignant hypertensive retinopathy

Ali M Al-Halafi 
 Department of Surgery, Division of Ophthalmology, Security Forces Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Ali M Al-Halafi
Department of Surgery, Division of Ophthalmology, Security Forces Hospital, P.O Box 3643, Riyadh 11481
Saudi Arabia


Signs of hypertensive retinopathy are common and are correlated with elevated blood pressure. Patients who have swelling of both optic discs and very high blood pressure (i.e., malignant retinopathy) need urgent antihypertensive treatment. A patient was reported with malignant hypertensive retinopathy who recovered promptly following single intravitreal bevacizumab injection. Intravitreal bevacizumab (1.25 mg/0.05 mL) was injected in two eyes of a patient having malignant hypertensive retinopathy with optic disc edema, macular edema, and retinal exudates. A complete ophthalmic examination, including the best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), central macular thickness on optical coherence tomography (OCT), and fluorescein angiography (FAG), was performed before and after the treatments. Two eyes in a patient received a single intravitreal injection of bevacizumab had improvement of macular edema on OCT at 1 month and decreased fluorescein leakage on FAG 3 months after the treatment, which led to improvements in the BCVA both eyes. The results suggest that intravitreal bevacizumab injections might be a useful and safe adjunctive treatment of malignant hypertensive retinopathy, in addition to proper medical management of malignant hypertension.

How to cite this article:
Al-Halafi AM. Tremendous result of bevacizumab in malignant hypertensive retinopathy.Oman J Ophthalmol 2015;8:61-63

How to cite this URL:
Al-Halafi AM. Tremendous result of bevacizumab in malignant hypertensive retinopathy. Oman J Ophthalmol [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Sep 18 ];8:61-63
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Full Text


Hypertensive retinopathy was first described by Gunn in the 19 th century in a series of patients with hypertension and renal disease. [1] Hypertensive retinopathy is characterized by the presence of retinal vascular signs in patients with elevated blood pressure. It is well known that the retinal circulation shares anatomical, physiological, and embryologic features with the cerebral circulation. An autopsy study of patients with stroke showed a close similarity between retinal and cerebral arteriolar findings which indicates an evidence of the association between the risk of stroke and hypertensive retinopathy. [2] There are infrequent data regarding the association of hypertensive retinopathy and the risk of coronary heart disease. [3] According to the Joint National Committee (JNC) criteria, the presence of retinopathy may be an indication for starting antihypertensive treatment, even in patients with stage 1 hypertension (blood pressure, 140-159/90-99 mm Hg) who have no other proof of target-organ damage. [4] The evidence in support of the JNC guidelines on retinal findings in hypertension is based on earlier studies that may not have a direct connection to current clinical practice. [1],[5],[6],[7]

Bevacizumab (avastin), an antibody against vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) (anti-VEGF), has been injected intravitreally in various retinal diseases that have increased vascular permeability and edema. [8] Researchers using preclinical models have shown that anti-VEGF agents such as bevacizumab may work by causing several changes in blood vessels. Next to interfering with vessel growth and neovascularization, they help a regression of existing microvessels and stimulate "normalization" of surviving mature vasculature, stabilize the vessel, and prevent leakage. [9]

This study reports a patient with malignant hypertensive retinopathy who presented with visual impairment and severe exudative retinal changes, but recovered quickly following a single intravitreal bevacizumab injection.

 Case Report

A 32-year-old woman was referred because of blurred vision in both eyes for 1 week. She had been taking medication to treat hypertension for 2 years with poor control of blood pressure. Her best-corrected visual acuity was counting fingers 5 feet both eyes. The anterior segment examination of both eyes was unremarkable. Fundoscopic examination showed bilateral optic disc swelling, peripapillary retinal edema involving the macula and peripapillary flame-shaped hemorrhages with multiple hard exudates more with the right eye [Figure 1]a. Fluorescein angiography (FAG) showed extensive fluorescein leakage from the optic disc and diffuse capillary leakage along the vascular arcades in both eyes [Figure 2]a. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) revealed bilateral marked macular edema and neurosensory detachment [Figure 3]a. Her blood pressure was 160/100 mm Hg. Cardiology, nephrology, and neurology consultations were obtained and showed renal impairment. This patient was treated with single intravitreal injections of bevacizumab (1.25 mg/0.05 mL) in both eyes. One month after the treatment, visual acuity was 20/400 and 20/100 in her right and left eyes, respectively, and the bilateral optic disc edema and macular edema had resolved [Figure 1]b and [Figure 3]b. Three months after the treatment, much of the hard exudates surrounding the fovea bilaterally were absorbed on fundus examination [Figure 1]c]. FAG showed minimal leakage from the optic discs bilaterally with macular area of nonperfusion of the right eye which might explain decreased right eye vision [Figure 2]b. Although she showed resolution of the bilateral macular edema, atrophic thinning of the fovea in both eyes was detected on OCT [Figure 3]c.{Figure 1}{Figure 2}{Figure 3}


The retinal circulation suffers a series of pathophysiological changes in reply to elevated blood pressure. [10] The retinal signs are generalized and focal arteriolar narrowing, arteriovenous nicking, flame-shaped and blot-shaped retinal hemorrhages, cotton-wool spots, and swelling of the optic disc some experimental studies [11],[12] and clinical trials [13],[14] have demonstrated that clinical findings of hypertensive retinopathy regress with the control of blood pressure, although spontaneous resolution of these findings in the presence of high blood pressure has also been reported. [15] It is unclear whether antihypertensive medications that are expected to have direct useful result on the microvascular structure (e.g., angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors) would decrease the injury of retinopathy beyond the reduction effected by lowered blood pressure. According to Chen et al., [16] 11 of 14 patients with malignant hypertensive retinopathy had an acceptable visual prognosis when the blood pressure was controlled, whereas three patients, who had longer durations of high blood pressure and other retinal comorbidities, such as central artery occlusion and anterior ischemic optic neuropathy still, had bad vision. Salman [17] did not find a significant relation between severity of hypertension and degree of drop in initial visual acuity or extent of retinopathy. However, Browning et al. [18] who found that the worst visual prognosis was associated with the highest presented blood pressure, the worst visual acuity at presentation, and the longest duration of symptoms. The use of intravitreal anti-VEGF therapy has expanded tremendously in recent years, and intravitreal anti-VEGF agents are now used to handle complications of various diseases of the posterior segment. [7] In an exudative stage of hypertensive retinopathy, in which there is a disruption of the blood retinal barrier, necrosis of the smooth muscles and endothelial cells, exudation of blood and lipids, and retinal ischemia. These changes are manifested in the retina as microaneurysms, hemorrhages, hard exudates, and cotton-wool spots. Swelling of the optic disc may occur at this time and usually indicates severely elevated blood pressure (i.e., malignant hypertension). [19],[20]

The intravitreal injection of anti-VEGF agents can accelerate the resolution of macular edema with exudative retinal detachment and improve the visual outcome.

In the current case, intravitreal bevacizumab injection in a patient with exudative stage of malignant hypertensive retinopathy resulted in rapid resolution of the macular edema and optic disc edema. Kim et al. [21] reported same results in two cases. This result and previous results suggest that intravitreal bevacizumab injection might be recommended as effective therapeutic modality for treating exudative stage of hypertensive retinopathy, in addition to lowering blood pressure.


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