Eylea, drug of choice in those with moderate to worse vision in treatment of diabetic macular edema, NEI-funded study shows

eylea-drug - USC Roski Eye InstituteA recent National Eye Institute (NEI)-funded clinical trial conducted by the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network found that Eylea® (aflibercept) outperformed Avastin® (bevacizumab) and Lucentis® (ranibizumab) in the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME), especially when administered to patients with 20/50 or worse vision at the beginning of the trial.

“The outcome of this clinical trial provides physicians with valuable information to determine the optimal course of action in the treatment of DME,” said Andrew Moshfeghi, MD, MBA, associate professor of ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine and director of clinical trials at the USC Eye Institute.

DME refers to leakage from damaged blood vessels in the central part of the retina, resulting in vision loss that can impair the ability to read, recognize faces or even drive. DME is part of the spectrum of complications that can occur in patients with diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy affects over 7.7 million people nationwide and is currently one of the leading causes of blindness in the world, with rapidly increasing prevalence.

In this clinical trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of three drugs was administered in a randomized fashion to 660 people across the nation over a period of one year. Avastin®, Lucentis® and Eylea® were chosen for their anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) properties, as they are effective in controlling leakage in blood vessels damaged by diabetes.

The investigators reported improved visual outcomes with all three drugs in the treatment of DME in patients with a visual acuity of 20/40 or better. Patients with a visual acuity of 20/50 or worse who were treated with Avastin® and Lucentis® showed improved vision and were able to read 2.5 and three additional lines on the eye chart compared to when the trial began. Patients with a visual acuity of 20/50 or worse treated with Eylea® showed better vision, reading almost four lines more than they did at the beginning of the trial. These results represent a statistically significant difference between groups and can have great impact on the management of DME. Treatment with these anti-VEGF drugs can enhance vision and thus improve the quality of life.

“We now know that patients coming into our clinics suffering from significant vision loss as a result of DME can be effectively treated with Eylea®,” Moshfeghi said. “This expands the options available to ophthalmologists in the management of this challenging condition.”

Moshfeghi is a retinal specialist and a member of the retina service at the USC Eye Institute.

The USC Eye Institute Retina Service specializes in the treatment of blinding retinal diseases such as diabetic retinopathy. It offers state-of-the-art care in the comprehensive treatment and management of patients who suffer from diseases affecting the retina and vitreous. The highly dedicated team of clinicians and researchers provide expertise and access to the most advanced medical therapies. To make an appointment to see our retina specialists please contact us at (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273).

For more information on this clinical trial please visit the National Eye Institute website, by clicking here or The New England Journal of Medicine, by clicking here.

by Debbie Mitra