Patients given four intravitreal injections of aflibercept for a year gained four Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) letters more in mean best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) than patients treated with PRP, researchers noted.
It was the first time an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) treatment has topped the laser in a trial of treatments for diabetic retinopathy without macular oedema, said chief investigator Dr Sobha Sivaprasad, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre in London, United Kingdom.
“These are significant findings for an eye condition that has been treated with PRP as standard of care for the past 40 years, as they demonstrate that aflibercept could potentially be adopted as an alternative treatment option, in year one, in compliant PDR patients in the future,” she said in a press release.
Dr Sivaprasad and colleagues presented the finding from the UK CLARITY trial on 9th May at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) annual conference in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, and published it online in The Lancet.
PRP reduces the risk of severe vision loss from proliferative diabetic retinopathy by more than 50%. But repeated PRP itself can cause loss of visual acuity.
Because of the success of anti-VEGF drugs in treating other eye diseases involving neovascularisation, researchers have begun exploring them as treatments for diabetic retinopathy as well.
A recent randomised clinical trial comparing another anti-VEGF, ranibizumab, to PRP for patients with high-risk PDR, with and without macular oedema, showed that ranibizumab was “non-inferior” to PRP after two years, with less visual field loss and incident vitrectomy.