The impact of COVID-19 on aflibercept treatment of neovascular AMD in Sweden - data from the Swedish Macula Register.

Wickman I, Lövestam-Adrian M, Granstam E, Kjellström U, Schroeder M

BMC Ophthalmol 24 (1) 49 [2024-01-30; online 2024-01-30]

The purpose of the study was to compare the real-world aflibercept treatment and visual outcomes, and to examine the adherence to pandemic guidelines in two groups of patients with treatment-naïve neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) before and during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden up to the 1-year follow-up. This is a retrospective observational study including 2915 treatment naïve eyes with nAMD. Using data from the Swedish Macula Register (SMR), 1597 eyes initiating treatment between 1 July 2018 and 31 January 2019 (pre-pandemic group) were compared with 1318 eyes starting treatment between 1 February and 31 August 2020 (pandemic group). The eyes were then followed for 1 year ± 2 months, hence the first group was unaffected by the pandemic while the second group was affected. The focus was on baseline characteristics, visual acuity (VA) change from baseline, number of injections, treatment regimen, number of appointments and the frequency and length of appointment delays. The Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Test was used to compare baseline VA to follow-up VA within the respective groups. The Mann-Whitney U-test and Fisher's exact test were used to compare outcomes between the groups. Baseline characteristics were similar between the two groups. The percentage of eyes with an available follow-up VA after 1 year was 58% in the pre-pandemic group vs. 44% in the pandemic group. VA in the pre-pandemic group had increased significantly after 1 year, from 62.2 ± 14.1 letters to 64.8 ± 16.1 letters (n = 921); p < 0.0001. In the pandemic group, VA increased from 61.1 ± 15.8 to 64.9 ± 16.9 (n = 575); p < 0.0001. There was no significant difference in mean VA change between the groups; p = 0.1734. The pre-pandemic group had significantly more delays than the pandemic group, 45% vs. 36%; p < 0.0001. The pre-pandemic and pandemic groups had similar VA gains at 1-year follow-up, but with a reduced number of available VA in the pandemic group. Clinics were able to implement and prioritize injection visits excluding VA measurements, helping to reduce delays and maintain VA gains during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Category: Health

Type: Journal article

PubMed 38291368

DOI 10.1186/s12886-024-03326-8

Crossref 10.1186/s12886-024-03326-8

pmc: PMC10826194
pii: 10.1186/s12886-024-03326-8

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