Registration site: ClinicalTrials. Registration number: NCT03679156
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The aim of this study was to assess retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) and retinal structural changes in eyes with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) treated with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) during long-term follow-up and to evaluate morphological markers potentially influencing prognosis.
A total of 18 eyes of 18 patients with neovascular AMD were examined subsequent to completion of the Avastin Versus Lucentis in Age Related Macular Degeneration (MANTA) study following a mean period of 84 months (range 69–93 months). After receiving a loading dose of 3 intravitreal anti-VEGF injections subsequent to baseline of the MANTA study, patients were treated as needed (pro re nata, PRN). Functional and morphological changes were assessed, the latter using spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT).
Retinal/RPE atrophy generally increased significantly during follow-up compared to baseline (fibrosis 28% vs. 89%, p = 0.0001, geographic atrophy, GA 0% vs. 67%, p = 0.0002, RPE porosity 61% vs. 100%, p = 0.009) whereas regenerative alterations tendentially increased until 3 months and then subsequently declined until the last visit (RPE thickening 28% vs. 11%, p = 0.22 and intraretinal hyperreflective foci 89% vs. 78%, p = 0.39).
Atrophic alterations of the retina and RPE are progressive and may partly be induced by anti-VEGF. Morphological findings may aid in the identification of prognostic markers in the progression of neovascular AMD. This could lead to a more targeted education of affected patients.