Avastin® is a cancer treatment drug now being used to treat diabetic retinopathy.  It is being administered as an “off-label” medication for intravitreal injection across the country by retinal specialists with very exciting results for treating macular edema caused by diabetic retinopathy.  Avastin® works by blocking a substance known as vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF.  Blocking or inhibiting VEGF helps to prevent further growth of the abnormal blood vessels that grow with diabetic retinopathy.  However, intravitreal injection of Avastin® has not yet been FDA approved for use in the U.S. (as of March 2006).  We do not yet know the long-term risks and benefits of using Avastin®.  Eye drops that numb the surface of the eye are used for this injection procedure.  Intravitreal injection of Avastin requires close follow-up, and is repeated as necessary.  This treatment is now covered by insurance.