The gold standard treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) involves repeated administration of anti-VEGF intravitreal injections. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many patients worldwide have been unable to receive treatment due to lockdowns or other measures and restrictions. This study, published in Ophthalmology and Therapy, focuses on the effects of delayed treatment of wet AMD in Austria.
Data were gathered from 98 eyes that underwent treatment discontinuation from March 16 to May 4, 2020. Patients were on a 3-year treatment plan of intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF and required at least another 3 injections after the discontinuation. As a result of the increased treatment interval, patients lost 2.2 ETDRS letters on average before continuing therapy. In addition, over the next year, 4.1 letters were lost on average despite resuming continuous treatment.
The researchers concluded that short-term treatment interruption had a significant, long-lasting negative effect on visual acuity in patients with wet AMD after 1 year. These findings indicate that continuous therapy remains of the utmost importance for patients with wet AMD .
Source: Stattin, M., Ahmed, D., Graf, A., Haas, A. M., Kickinger, S., Jacob, M., Krepler, K., & Ansari-Shahrezaei, S. (2021). The effect of treatment discontinuation during the COVID-19 pandemic on visual acuity in exudative neovascular age-related macular degeneration: 1-year results. Ophthalmology and Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40123-021-00381-y