“Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy” (PDR) is the most common severe sight impairment affecting diabetics. It is a condition where new blood vessels grow inside the eye. This abnormal formation of blood vessels threatens the patient’s eyesight.
The treatment for PDR for the past 40 years has been “panretinal laser photocoagulation”. However, this laser treatment has detrimental side-effects, including permanent vision damage.
A new clinical trial published in The Lancet tested a relatively new treatment called “intravitreal aflibercept” on PDR patients.
This treatment is a type of “anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (a–VEGF)” therapy, which blocks the growth factors that stimulates the formation of new blood vessels. It has previously been shown that this class of treatment is safer that the standard laser treatment.
The trial found that treatment with intravitreal aflibercept had improved outcomes compared to the widely accepted panretinal laser photocoagulation treatment.
Over a period of 52 weeks, 232 adults with type 1 or 2 diabetes and PDR were randomly assigned to receive intravitreal aflibercept or the standard panretinal laser photocoagulation treatments.
After a year, the results indicated that patients in the intravitreal aflibercept group had the best corrected visual acuity when compared to those who received the laser treatment. Diabetics in the intravitreal aflibercept group also reported higher satisfaction scores in questionnaires that were completed during the study.
While longer term studies remain to be completed, the results of this study indicate that the intravitreal aflibercept treatment may be a superior alternative to the panretinal laser photocoagulation treatment which has been the standard-of-care for the past 40 years.