The macula is a small, specialized area in the retina that is responsible for sharp, central vision.
It is located at the center of the retina and is made up of a high concentration of photoreceptor cells, which are responsible for detecting light and transmitting visual signals to the brain. The macula is essential for tasks such as reading, driving, and identifying objects and faces.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the cells in the macula begin to break down, causing a gradual loss of central vision. While AMD typically affects people over the age of 50, it can develop at a younger age in some cases.
Symptoms of AMD include blurred or distorted central vision, difficulty reading or recognizing faces, and a need for brighter lighting when doing tasks. While there is currently no cure for AMD, there are a few treatment options available to slow its progression, repair damaged blood vessels, and maintain vision.
New Study Concludes Which Medicine is More Effective
The standard treatment of AMD (particularly, a type known as wet AMD) involves monthly or bimonthly eye injections of either aflibercept or bevacizumab.
In the past, these two drugs were considered to be interchangeable, with similar degrees of safety and effectiveness. But a new study published in November 2022 has demonstrated initial evidence that one may actually be significantly better than the other.
Aflibercept treatments are significantly more expensive than bevacizumab treatments ($2000 per treatment compared to $100 per treatment). But this new evidence suggests that aflibercept may be worth the extra cost in many cases.
This study reviewed the treatment records and success outcomes of 106 patients with wet AMD who were treated at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute.
For the first three months, each patient received monthly treatments of either aflibercept or bevacizumab. Then, the standard protocol is to slowly wean the patients off the medicine by extending the interval between treatments.
After the first year, records showed that 30 out of the 60 patients treated with aflibercept (50%) were determined to be successfully weaned off, while only 8 of the 46 patients treated with bevacizumab (17%) were weaned off.
And for the patients who were still being treated, aflibercept patients averaged a 13.1 week interval between treatments, compared to 9.1 weeks for bevacizumab patients (a 44% improvement). Both groups had a similar status of vision loss after one year.
What This Means For You
Although this study only involved a small number of patients, it is opening the door for new insights into the best way of treating age-related macular degeneration.
Future research will continue to search for confirmation of these findings, as well as seek to elaborate on why this difference in outcomes may exist.
At this point in time, if you are developing or living with macular degeneration, your doctor will collaborate with you to find the best treatment option for your particular situation.