According to a story from hopkinsmedicine.org, a study evaluating data from 106 patients living with wet age-related macular degeneration found a significant disparity in outcomes when comparing patients that received treatment with aflibercept versus bevacizumab. These patients were being treated at the John Hopkins Medicine Wilmer Eye Institute. The study revealed that after one year, close to half of patients using aflibercept could safely halt treatment without further declines in eyesight. However, only 17 percent of patients using bevacizumab could do the same.
About Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Wet age-related macular degeneration is a condition affecting vision which can result in loss of eyesight or blurred eyesight in the middle of the visual field. One or both eyes may be affected. Wet age-related macular degeneration is the least common form of macular degeneration, making up around ten percent of cases. In the wet form, blood vessels being to grow beneath the macula, resulting in fluids and blood leakage into the retina. Risk factors include European ancestry, a high fat diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, advanced age, and a family history of the disease. Symptoms often don’t occur in early stages but later can include vision distortion, sudden decline in visual acuity, visual hallucinations, difficulty discerning colors, and blurry vision. The primary treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration are VEGF inhibitors. Other potential approaches include photodynamic therapy and laser coagulation therapy. To learn more about wet age-related macular degeneration, click here.
The findings indicate that with the right treatment, many patients will not need to be treated indefinitely. Larger scale studies may be necessary to validate the findings from this research. These therapies are administered as an injection into the eye, typically on a monthly basis. This method of treatment is uncomfortable and comes with potential adverse effects, such as infection or retinal detachment. Additionally, this treatment must be a done at a doctor’s office, making it harder for patients (who may have difficulty with transportation due to age and vision issues) to adhere to the regimen.
While aflibercept appears to be more effective than bevacizumab, it costs much more, but intervals between treatment doses can be longer. The patients using these drugs in the study had each received monthly injections for the first three months of their treatment. When the disease was found to be inactive in a given patient, the dose interval was extended by two weeks. If the interval reached 12 weeks, then the patient was taken off the treatment and monitored closely.
The team found that the patients using bevacizumab had a greater rate of vision decline after the interval was extended. Further research is needed to understand why one drug appears to be more effective than the other.
You can find the abstract of the study here.