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Managing Diabetic Macular Edema in Clinical Practice: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Current Strategies and Treatment Options

Authors Veritti D, Sarao V, Soppelsa V, Lanzetta P

Received 26 September 2020

Accepted for publication 22 January 2021

Published 29 January 2021 Volume 2021:15 Pages 375—385


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Daniele Veritti,1 Valentina Sarao,1,2 Valentina Soppelsa,1 Paolo Lanzetta1,2

1Department of Medicine - Ophthalmology, University of Udine, Udine, Italy; 2Istituto Europeo di Microchirurgia Oculare (IEMO), Udine, Italy

Correspondence: Paolo Lanzetta
Department of Medicine - Ophthalmology, University of Udine, P.le Santa Maria della Misericordia 15, Udine, 33100, Italy
Tel +39 0432 559907
Fax +39 0432 559904

Purpose: This meta-analysis aims to summarize 12-month best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) outcomes in response to anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy and dexamethasone implant for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME) and to identify factors affecting treatment response using evidence generated from meta-regression.
Methods: A systematic review of electronic databases was conducted to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and real-life/observational studies that reported 12-month changes in BCVA in patients with DME on anti-VEGF or dexamethasone implant treatment in monotherapy. Study factors that were analyzed are baseline patient characteristics, study type, drug employed, number of injections and 12-month change in BCVA. Data were pooled in a random-effects meta-analysis with BCVA change as the main outcome. Meta-regression was conducted to assess the impact of multiple covariates.
Results: One-hundred-five heterogeneous study populations (45,032 eyes) were identified and included in the analysis. The use of anti-VEGFs and dexamethasone implant induced an overall increase of +8.13 ETDRS letters in BCVA at 12 months of follow-up. Meta-regression provided evidence that mean BCVA change using anti-VEGFs was not statistically higher for RCTs (p=0.35) compared to observational studies. Dexamethasone implant showed a trend for better results in observational studies over RCTs. Populations following a fixed aflibercept regimen performed better than those following a reactive treatment regimen. Mean BCVA gain was higher in younger populations (p< 0.001), with lower baseline BCVA (p< 0.0001) and longer diabetes duration (p< 0.0001), receiving a higher number of injections (p< 0.0001).
Conclusion: Intravitreal therapy with anti-VEGFs or dexamethasone implant produces a significant improvement in BCVA at 12 months in patients with DME. Meta-regression identified the modifiable covariates that can be targeted in order to maximize functional results.

Keywords: aflibercept, anti-VEGF, bevacizumab, dexamethasone, diabetic macular edema, ranibizumab

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