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Visual Acuity Outcomes and Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Therapy Intensity in Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration Patients: A Real-World Analysis of 49 485 Eyes.

PURPOSE: This study assessed anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy intensity and its relationship with visual acuity (VA) change in real-world neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) patients.

DESIGN: This retrospective analysis was performed on a large database of aggregated, longitudinal, de-identified electronic medical records from a geographically and demographically diverse sample of patients of United States retina specialists (Vestrum Health Retina Database).

PARTICIPANTS: Treatment-naïve nAMD patients who underwent anti-VEGF injections between January 1, 2012, and October 31, 2016, were eligible if follow-up data were available before October 31, 2017.

METHODS: Age, gender, anti-VEGF treatment type, number of treatments, and VA were extracted from the database.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Mean VA change assessed at 1 year and stratified based on number of anti-VEGF injections received over 1 year.

RESULTS: In this analysis, 49 485 eyes were included. The mean age was 80.9 years, and 64% were female. Mean baseline VA was 53.8 letters (Snellen equivalent, 20/80). At 1 year, after a mean of 7.3 anti-VEGF injections, there was a mean gain of 1 letter (0.95 letter; 95% confidence interval [CI] for change in VA, +0.77 to +1.13 letter; P < 0.001). When stratified by anti-VEGF agent, the mean VA changes were nearly identical at 1 year. There was a linear relationship between mean letters gained and mean number of injections, between 4 and 10 injections over 1 year, with 4 or fewer or 10 or more injections associated with loss of vision or a plateau, respectively. Greater mean 1-year change in VA also trended with worse baseline VA; those patients with better VA at presentation tended to be particularly vulnerable to vision loss. Those who received the fewest injections tended to be older and have worse baseline VA.

CONCLUSIONS: Real-world nAMD patients receive fewer anti-VEGF injections and experience worse visual outcomes compared with patients receiving fixed, frequent therapy in randomized controlled trials. Mean change in VA correlates with treatment intensity at 1 year, but with ceiling effects related to treatment intensity and baseline VA. Older patients and those with poor baseline VA may be particularly prone to undertreatment.

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