All posts in Updated Retinal Bulletin

Trends of Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Use in Ophthalmology Among Privately Insured and Medicare Advantage Patients

Purpose: To characterize the first 10 years of intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) medication use for ophthalmic disease, including bevacizumab, ranibizumab, and aflibercept.

Design: A retrospective cohort study using administrative claims data from January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2015.

Subjects: Total of 124 835 patients 18 years of age or over in the United States.

Methods: OptumLabs Data Warehouse, which includes administrative claims data for over 100 million commercially insured and Medicare Advantage individuals, was used to identify patients receiving intravitreal anti-VEGF injections based on Current Procedural Terminology codes.

Main Outcome Measures: Total and annual numbers of intravitreal anti-VEGF injections, as well as injections per 1000 enrolled patients per general category of ophthalmic disease, overall and for each available medication.

Results: There were 959 945 anti-VEGF injections among 124 835 patients from 2006 to 2015. Among all injections, 64.6% were of bevacizumab, 22.0% ranibizumab, and 13.4% aflibercept; 62.7% were performed to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), 16.1% to treat diabetic retinal diseases (including 0.9% of all injections that were for proliferative diabetic retinopathy), 8.3% to treat retinal vein occlusions, and 12.9% for all other uses. Use of bevacizumab and ranibizumab for AMD plateaued as of 2011/2012 and decreased thereafter (in 2006, 58.8 and 35.3 injections/1000 AMD patients, respectively; in 2015, 294.4 and 100.7 injections/1000), whereas use of aflibercept increased (1.1 injections/1000 AMD patients in 2011 to 183.0 injections/1000 in 2015). Bevacizumab use increased each year for diabetic retinal disease (2.4 injections/1000 patients with diabetic retinal disease in 2009 to 13.6 per 1000 in 2015) while that of ranibizumab initially increased significantly and then declined after 2014 (0.1 in 2009 to 4.0 in 2015). Aflibercept use increased each year in patients with diabetic etinal diseases and retinal vein occlusions (both >0.1 per 1000 retinal vein occlusion patients in 2011, 5.6 and 140.2 in 2015).

Conclusions: Intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF medications increased annually from 2006 to 2015. Bevacizumab was the most common medication used, despite its lacking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to treat ophthalmic disease, and AMD was the most common condition treated. Ranibizumab use declined after 2014 while both the absolute and relative use of bevacizumab and aflibercept increased. Ophthalmology 2017;124:352-358 ª 2016 by the American Academy of Ophthalmology

Full Paper: Trends of Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Use in Ophthalmology Among Privately Insured and Medicare Advantage Patients
(599K PDF)

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Extent of Internal Limiting Membrane Peeling and its Impact on Macular Hole Surgery Outcomes: A Randomized Trial

Since Kelly and Wendel introduced the victrectomy technique to reattach the macular hole (MH),1 considerable advances in surgical treatment have been achieved. As a consequence, MH has now become a surgically treatable disease with standardized techniques incorporating vitrectomy, induction of posterior vitreous detachment, internal limiting membrane (ILM) peeling, and gas tamponade.2 Although there was a debate on ILM peeling in the past, ILM peeling has been established to improve surgical success rates.3–6 In addition, retinal ILM peeling has been facilitated by staining dye such as indocyanine green.7,8

The rationale for ILM peeling is that MH can occur and enlarge owing to contraction of perifoveal vitreous and cellular constituents with myofibroblastic differentiation on the surface of the ILM.2,9 Although ILM has no inherent contractile properties, it does act as a scaffold for contractile tissue to exert tangential traction on fovea. Several studies using optical coherence tomography (OCT) have reported the dynamic sealing process after MH surgery.10–13 Foveal tissue elongation and macular migration have been noted following ILM peeling after surgery for MH and diabetic macular edema.14–17 In addition, there is a significant correlation between these morphologic changes and visual function such as metamorphopsia.14

Although ILM peeling has become a widely accepted surgical technique since the introduction of MH surgery, the optimal extent of ILM peeling is not known and the anatomic and functional outcomes according to peeling extent have not been investigated. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of the extent of ILM peeling on anatomic and functional outcomes of MH surgery.

Full Paper: Extent of Internal Limiting Membrane Peeling and its Impact on Macular Hole Surgery Outcomes: A Randomized Trial
(1.3M PDF)

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Cost-effectiveness of Aflibercept, Bevacizumab, and Ranibizumab for Diabetic Macular Edema Treatment

Arecent Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network (DRCR.net) comparative effectiveness trial found that for patients with diabetic macular edema (DME) and approximate Snellen equivalent baseline visual acuity (VA) of 20/50 or worse aflibercept produced greater mean VA gains at 1 year than bevacizumab or ranibizumab. In contrast, no difference in mean VA improvement was identified for patients with baseline VAs of 20/32 to 20/40.1

These agents also vary substantially in cost. O nthe basis of 2015 wholesale acquisition costs, aflibercept (2.0 mg) costs $1850,2 ranibizumab (0.3mg) costs $1170,2 and bevacizumab repackaged at compounding pharmacies into syringes for ophthalmologic use containing 1.25mg of bevacizumab costs approximately $6 0per dose.3 Considering that these medicines may be given 9 to 11 times in the first year of treatment1 and, on average, 17 times during 5 years,4 total costs can be substantial. In 2010, when these intravitreous agents were being used predominantly for age-related macular degeneration, ophthalmologic use of anti–vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)therapy cost approximately $2 billion or one-sixth of the entire Medicare Part B drug budget.3 In 2013, Medicare Part B expenditures for aflibercept and ranibizumab alone totaled $2.5 billion.5 Given these costs, the DRCR.net investigators believed it was important to analyze the relative cost-effectiveness of treating DME using each agent.

Full Paper: Cost-effectiveness of Aflibercept, Bevacizumab, and Ranibizumab for Diabetic Macular Edema Treatment
(385K PDF)

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Retinal Ganglion Cell Layer Change in Patients Treated With Anti–Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor for Neovascular Age-related Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of visual impairment in individuals over the age of 55 years in developed countries.1 The neovascular form of AMD, with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) as one of the key factors, causes severe and irreversible vision loss, frequently resulting in legal blindness.2,3 In recent years, VEGF inhibition by anti-VEGF antibodies has significantly improved visual outcomes in patients with neovascular AMD. However, in many patients with neovascular AMD anti-VEGF needs to be continuously administered over many years to persistently suppress disease activity and maintain visual function.

The need for long-term treatment with anti-VEGF agents has also become evident in the extension studies, where long-term outcomes 7-8 years after initiation of intensive ranibizumab therapy suggest that many patients require long-term treatment with anti-VEGF agents.4 However, despite the beneficial effect of anti-VEGF therapy, long-term side effects are not clarified yet and are a matter of ongoing controversy. There is evidence that repeated long-term anti-VEGF treatment may accelerate atrophy of different ocular tissues. Retinal pigment epithelium atrophy,5 as well as scleral thinning, has been reported.6 In the last years, several studies have investigated the effect of intravitreal anti-VEGF injections on the peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL). There exists some controversy regarding the effect of anti-VEGF agents on retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). In mice, some reports suggest severe damage to RGCs after local treatment with VEGF binding agents,7 while another report did not find any changes within the retinal ganglion cell layer (RGCL) after VEGF receptor blockade in mice.8 Because most studies have analyzed peripapillary optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans, these reports have focused on RNFL change after antiVEGF treatment. However, several studies focusing on glaucoma patients have shown that RGCL thickness changes may be a more sensitive marker for global and regional visual field sensitivities.9,10

In the present study, we investigated RNFL and RGCL changes in the macular area in eyes receiving long-term intravitreal anti-VEGF treatment for neovascular AMD using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (Spectralis SDOCT; Heidelberg Engineering, Heidelberg, Germany) and automated segmentation of macular scans.

Full Paper: Retinal Ganglion Cell Layer Change in Patients Treated With Anti–Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor for Neovascular Age-related Macular Degeneration
(1.1M PDF)

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Reduction of Diabetic Macular Edema in the Untreated Fellow Eye Following Intravitreal Injection of Aflibercept

Abstract

A 59-year-old patient with bilateral worsening diabetic macular edema received intravitreal injection of aflibercept (Eylea; Regeneron, Tarrytown, NY) to the left eye only. On 1-month follow-up, there was noted bilateral improvement of visual acuity and diabetic macular edema on spectral-domain optical coherence tomography imaging, reflecting bilateral effect of unilateral treatment with aflibercept.

Full Paper: Reduction of Diabetic Macular Edema in the Untreated Fellow Eye Following Intravitreal Injection of Aflibercept
(1.69M PDF)

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The Effect of Postoperative Face-Down Positioning and of Long- versus Short-Acting Gas in Macular Hole Surgery

Macular hole surgery was first described in 1991 by Kelly and Wendel1 and Wendel et al.2 Randomized controlled studies subsequently demonstrated the superiority of surgery over conservative management. These studies used perfluoropropane (C3F8) gas as a tamponade agent, rather than the originally described sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and advised 2 weeks of face-down positioning (FDP).3-5 The surgical technique has been refined over the past 2 decades.6 Recent studies have demonstrated the additional benefit of internal limiting membrane (ILM) peeling at the time of surgery, and hole closure rates in most recent series are greater than 90%.7-10

There remains broad variability in clinical practice and management of this condition, with no consensus regarding the best surgical approach, particularly regarding the choice of intravitreal tamponade and duration of FDP.11-13 Many investigators have reported good results without FDP.14-25 Various mechanisms of action of the gas tamponade are postulated in macular hole surgery,26 with all assuming that bubble-fovea contact is relevant. Therefore, it would seem intuitive that a larger, longer-acting bubble combined with FDP should be beneficial because this would both facilitate and prolong this apposition. However, there is optical coherence tomography evidence that hole closure occurs very early in the postoperative period, often within the first 24 hours.27-29 As such, longer-acting gases and prolonged (or indeed any) FDP may be unnecessary.

By using a noninferiority study design applied to a large prospective (nonrandomized) registry-based cohort, we aimed to observe whether withholding FDP was noninferior to FDP (of any duration) and whether SF6 gas was noninferior to longer-acting gas tamponades. The present article presents the anatomic outcomes.

Full Paper: The Effect of Postoperative Face-Down Positioning and of Long- versus Short-Acting Gas in Macular Hole Surgery
(1.16M PDF)

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Topical Dorzolamide-Timolol With Intravitreous Anti–Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor for Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Importance

There is a subset of eyes with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that have persistent exudation despite fixed-interval intravitreous anti–vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) injections.

Objective

To evaluate the effect of topical dorzolamide hydrochloride–timolol maleate on anatomic and functional outcomes in eyes with neovascular AMD and incomplete response to anti-VEGF therapy.

Design, Setting, and Participants

An exploratory, prospective single-arm interventional study at a tertiary referral academic private practice. Patients with neovascular AMD and persistent macular edema despite fixed-interval intravitreous anti-VEGF therapy were enrolled. Baseline spectral-domain optical coherence tomography and clinical data, including visual acuity and intraocular pressure, were obtained at enrollment and from one visit before enrollment. The study was performed at the Retina Service of Wills Eye Hospital and the offices of Mid Atlantic Retina from February 1, 2015, through September 30, 2015. Patients were followed up for at least 2 visits after enrollment. Central subfield thickness, maximum subretinal fluid height, and maximum pigment epithelial detachment height from spectral-domain optical coherence tomography were recorded at each visit. INTERVENTIONS Enrolled eyes received a regimen of topical dorzolamide-timolol twice daily and continued to receive the same intravitreous anti-VEGF therapy at the same interval as received before enrollment for the duration of the study.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Change in central subfield thicknesswas the primary outcome measure. Changes in maximum subretinal fluid height, maximum pigment epithelial detachment height, and visual acuity were the secondary outcome measures.

Results

Ten patients (10 eyes) completed the study. The mean age of the patients was 78.2 years (age range, 65-91 years), and 6 were male. Eight eyes received intravitreous aflibercept, and 2 eyes received intravitreous ranibizumab. All study eyes had been receiving long-term anti-VEGF therapy with the same medication before study enrollment for a mean of 21.9 injections. The mean central subfield thickness decreased from 419.7 μmat enrollment to 334.1 μm at the final visit (P = .01). The mean maximum subretinal fluid height decreased from 126.6 μmat enrollment to 49.5 μm at the final visit (P = .02). The mean maximum pigment epithelial detachment height decreased from 277.4 μmat enrollment to 239.9 μmat the final visit (P = .12). The mean logMAR visual acuity were 0.54 at enrollment and 0.48 at the final visit (P = .60).

Conclusions and Relevance

These data suggest that topical dorzolamide-timolol may reduce central subfield thickness and subretinal fluid in eyes with persistent exudation despite consistent, fixed-interval intravitreous anti-VEGF treatment for neovascular AMD.

Full Paper: Topical Dorzolamide-Timolol With Intravitreous Anti–Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor for Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration
(371K PDF)

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Conversion to Aflibercept After Prior Anti-VEGF Therapy for Persistent Diabetic Macular Edema

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) is the leading cause of visual impairment in patients with diabetic retinopathy.1 In 2010, approximately 20.6 million out of a projected 92.6 million adults with diabetic retinopathy worldwide were estimated to have concurrent DME.2 This global healthcare burden will likely continue to increase at alarming rates, as some models estimate the number of diabetics will double by the year 2030.3

With the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) in the 1980s,4 macular laser photocoagulation became the mainstay of DME management, and it remained the standard of care in the decades that followed. The advent of intravitreal pharmacotherapy agents, primarily driven by the class of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors, has since revolutionized how this condition is treated. Validated through the RISE and RIDE phase 3 clinical trials,5 ranibizumab (Lucentis; Genentech, South San Francisco, California, USA) became the first VEGF inhibitor approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for this indication in 2012.

While off-label, bevacizumab (Avastin; Genentech) has been evaluated through smaller trials, such as the BOLT study.6 Most recently, aflibercept (Eylea; Regeneron, Tarrytown, New York) gained FDA approval to treat DME in July 2014 with the VIVID and VISTA phase 3 clinical trials.7,8

While there is ample evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of the 3 anti-VEGF agents in the management of DME, a head-to-head comparison only recently became available when the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network (DRCR) published the 1-year outcomes of its Comparative Effectiveness Study of Intravitreal Aflibercept, Bevacizumab, and Ranibizumab for DME (Protocol T).9 The results demonstrated that when baseline visual acuity (VA) loss was mild (›20/ 40), there was no clinical difference between the 3 medications. However, when the initial acuity loss was more severe (‹20/50), a greater visual benefit was derived from aflibercept.9

Since the FDA approval of aflibercept for DME, and in light of Protocol T’s findings, many retinal specialists are converting eyes from ranibizumab or bevacizumab to aflibercept with the goal of optimizing treatment outcomes, particularly in cases of refractory DME. In the current study, we evaluated the short-term functional and anatomic responses of patients with persistent DME after multiple previous anti-VEGF injections that were converted to aflibercept therapy.

Full Paper: Conversion to Aflibercept After Prior Anti-VEGF Therapy for Persistent Diabetic Macular Edema
(1.78M PDF)

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Lamellar Macular Hole: Two Distinct Clinical Entities?

Purpose

To investigate whether lamellar macular holes can be divided into different subgroups.

Design

Retrospective observational case series.

Methods

In this institutional study, clinical charts and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (OCT) images of 102 eyes of 90 consecutive patients diagnosed with lamellar macular hole were reviewed. In OCT imaging, the presence of lamellar macular hole was defined according to the following findings: presence of irregular foveal contour, separation of the layers of the neurosensory retina, and the absence of full-thickness macular defect. Mean outcome was the morphologic and functional characterization of different subtypes of macular hole.

Results

Two different subtypes of lamellar macular hole were identified: tractional and degenerative. The first type, tractional, was diagnosed in 43 eyes, and was characterized by the schitic separation of neurosensory retina between outer plexiform and outer nuclear layers. It often presented with an intact ellipsoid layer and was associated with tractional epiretinal membranes and/or vitreomacular traction. The second type, degenerative, was diagnosed in 48 eyes, and its distinctive traits included the presence of intraretinal cavitation that could affect all retinal layers. It was often associated with nontractional epiretinal proliferation and a retinal “bump.” Moreover, it often presented with early ellipsoidal zone defect and its pathogenesis, although chronic and progressive, remains poorly understood. Eleven eyes shared common features with both tractional and degenerative lamellar macular holes and were classified as mixed lesions.

Conclusions

Degenerative and tractional lamellar macular holes may be 2 distinct clinical entities. A revision of the current concept of lamellar macular holes is needed.

Full Paper: Lamellar Macular Hole: Two Distinct Clinical Entities?
(3.56M PDF)

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Association Between Oral Fluoroquinolone Use and Retinal Detachment

Importance

Several studies have focused on the current use of oral fluoroquinolones and the risk for retinal detachment (RD), but the existence of this association is under debate. Given the widespread fluoroquinolone use, investigation of this association is essential.

Objective

To assess the association between oral fluoroquinolone use and the risk for RD, including the rhegmatogenous and exudative types.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This case-crossover study included 27 540 adults with RD from French health care databases from July 1, 2010, through December 31, 2013. Patients with a history of RD or retinal break, endophthalmitis, intravitreal injection, choroidal retinal vitreal biopsy, and human immunodeficiency virus infection or those hospitalized within 6 months of RD were excluded. The risk period of primary interest was current use, defined as exposure to fluoroquinolones within 10 days immediately before RD surgery, according to previous findings. Oral fluoroquinolone use was assumed to start on the day the prescription was dispensed.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Exposure to fluoroquinolones during the risk period (1-10 days) compared with the control period (61-180 days). The association was also assessed regarding use in the recent (11-30 days) and past (31-60 days) intermediate risk period, type of fluoroquinolone, and type of RD.

Results

Of the 27 540 eligible patients (57%men; mean [SD] age, 61.5 [13.6] years), 663 patients with RD were exposed to fluoroquinolones during the observation period, corresponding to 80 cases exposed during the 10-day risk period (10 days before RD) and 583 cases exposed during the control period (61-180 days).We found a significant increased risk for RD during the 10-day period after the dispensing of oral fluoroquinolones, with an adjusted odds ratio of 1.46 (95%CI, 1.15-1.87). The risk was significantly increased for rhegmatogenous and exudative RD, with adjusted odds ratios of 1.41 (95%CI, 1.04-1.92) and 2.57 (95%CI, 1.46-4.53), respectively. Recent and past use of fluoroquinolones were not associated with a higher risk for RD, with adjusted odds ratios of 0.94 (95%CI, 0.78-1.14) and 1.06 (95%CI, 0.91-1.24), respectively.

Conclusions and Relevance

Current oral fluoroquinolone use was associated with an increased risk for RD, including the rhegmatogenous and exudative types. These findings, along with the available literature, suggest an association between fluoroquinolone use and the risk for RD. The nature of this association should be further investigated in future studies.

Full Paper: Association Between Oral Fluoroquinolone Use and Retinal Detachment
(365K PDF)

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