The anti-VEGF drug, Avastin® (bevacizumab), was used to treat patients with diabetic macular edema. The study found that over 50% of patients receiving the drug noted improved vision. Overall, 97% of patients were either stabilized or noted improvement over the two year study period. In the study, patients received between 1 and 15 injections over the two year period.
Avastin® has been FDA approved for treating several types of cancer, but over the years, it has fast become a very important treatment for macular degeneration. In many areas, it is the treatment of choice for macular degeneration. Many retina specialists, including myself, are using it for diabetic macular edema, a common complication of diabetic retinopathy.
What does this mean? While the results of this retrospective trial seem to indicate Avastin® is useful for diabetic retinopathy, it does not necessarily mean so. A prospective trial needs to be established where patients are randomly selected to be treated with Avastin® or a placebo, and then followed by investigators that have no idea which treatment was given (masked or double-blind studies). This is the best way to establish meaningful results.
The standard treatment, the so-called “standard of care,” for diabetic macular edema is laser photocoagulation. Studies also need to be established to compare Avastin® head on with laser treatment to establish which treatment is favorable.
The original article appears in the August edition of Ophthalmology. Click to read the article.
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist