January 2019

Projection of Long-Term Visual Acuity Outcomes Based on Initial Treatment Response in Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Vuong Nguyen, Vincent Daien, Robyn Guymer, Stephanie Young, Alex Hunyor, Samantha Fraser-Bell, Adrian Hunt, Mark C Gillies, Daniel Barthelmes, Fight Retinal Blindness! Study Group


Purpose: To explore various methods for assessing the early response to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors for neovascular age-related macular degeneration and investigate their association with 3-year visual acuity (VA) outcomes.

Design: Database study, prospectively designed.

Participants: Treatment-naïve eyes in the Fight Retinal Blindness! registry that commenced anti-VEGF therapy between January 1, 2007, and March 1, 2014, that received 3 anti-VEGF injections within the first 3 months.

Methods: The early response was defined as occurring up until the fourth injection. Various early response metrics were explored: (1) achieving good VA (≥70 letters; Snellen equivalent, 20/40), (2) absolute change in VA from baseline, (3) time to first grading of the choroidal neovascular lesion as inactive, and (4) maximum rate of VA change between successive injections.

Main outcome measures: Proportion of eyes achieving ≥70 letters 3 years.

Results: This study included 2051 treatment-naïve eyes from 1828 patients. Achieving good vision at 3 years was associated significantly with (1) having good vision by the fourth injection (VA ≥70 vs. VA 5 letters) early VA gains (vs. early VA loss: OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.2-2.6; P = 0.002; and OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.3-2.5; P 3 injections: OR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.2-2.1; P < 0.001), (4) gradual change (between -4 and 4 letters) or rapid gains (≥5 letters) between successive injections (vs. rapid loss: OR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.1-2.6; P = 0.015; and OR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1-2.3; P = 0.018). Eyes that achieved small or large early gains had similar vision at 3 years (65.0 and 64.7 letters, respectively) and had better vision than eyes with early VA loss (57.2 letters). Conclusions: Attainment of good vision by the fourth injection was associated strongly with 3-year visual outcomes, whereas other early response parameters showed a moderate association. The early response during the initial 3 monthly injections can be a useful guide for subsequent treatment decisions.