A National Eye Institute (NEI) study* confirms that anti-VEGF treatments have greatly improved the prognosis for patients with the wet form of age-related macular degeneration (wAMD) during the past decade.
In the study of nearly 650 people, half still had vision 20/40 or better, typically good enough to drive or to read standard print, after five years of treatment with anti-VEGF drugs that are injected into the eye. The authors of the study say those outcomes would have been unimaginable about 10 years ago, prior to the drugs’ availability. Ate that time, laser coagulation and photodynamic therapy were the only treatments for wAMD.
The results were published in the journal Ophthalmology and presented May 2nd at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Seattle.
“This is the most comprehensive study of anti-VEGF therapy for AMD to date,” said NEI Director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D. “It points to the importance of long-term follow-up in studies evaluating disease treatments.”
Researchers looked at people with wAMD who had regular treatment with drugs designed to block VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) that causes blood vessel growth. After five years, 50 percent of them had 20/40 vision or better, 20 percent had 20/200 vision or worse, and the rest were in-between. In the U.S., state drivers’ licenses generally require 20/40 vision in at least one eye. A best-corrected vision of 20/200 in both eyes is considered legally blind for the purpose of federal disability benefits.
“Although anti-VEGF treatment has greatly improved the prognosis for patients overall, we still need to find ways to avoid poor vision in these patients and to decrease the burden of ongoing treatment,” said Maureen G. Maguire, Ph.D., the study’s principal investigator.
Research is still moving forward to find cures for the dry form of AMD that can develop into wAMD. For information about those potential treatments, see A Guide to Research in Dry AMD.
*CATT Research Group. Five-year outcomes with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor treatment for neovascular age-related macular degeneration: The Comparison of Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treatments Trials. Ophthalmology. May 2, 2016. DOI: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2016.03.045