Among Macular Edema Treatments, This Rx May Lead the Pack

Eylea was more effective than Avastin and Lucentis in treating moderate vision loss from diabetic macular edema

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) One medication may outperform the others when it comes to treating diabetic macular edema.

That medication is aflibercept (brand name Eylea). A new study that compared aflibercept with bevacizumab (Avastin) and ranibizumab (Lucentis) found that aflibercept resulted in the most visual improvement in patients with moderate vision loss from diabetic macular edema.

The three treatments showed similar vision improvement in patients whose vision loss was considered mild rather than moderate.

"This comparative effectiveness study will help doctors and patients make informed decisions when choosing treatments for diabetic macular edema," said National Eye Institute Director Paul A. Sieving, MD, PhD, in a press release.

Diabetic macular edema usually occurs in patients with diabetic retinopathy — an eye disease that can lead to abnormal blood vessels in the eye. In macular edema, fluid may leak from blood vessels in the eye and cause it to swell. This can distort and damage vision.

This study, led by Adam R. Glassman, MS, of the Jaeb Center for Health Research in Tampa, FL, looked at nearly 700 people across the US who had macular edema. Each of these patients received either aflibercept, bevacizumab or ranibizumab.

A year after the patients began taking these medications, most had seen improvements in their vision. In those patients with moderate vision loss, aflibercept appeared to result in the most improvement.

According to a press release from the National Eye Institute, aflibercept enabled these patients to read almost four more lines on an eye chart than they were able to at the start of this study. For ranibizumab, that figure was nearly three lines. And bevacizumab appeared to allow patients to read 2.5 lines more than they were able to before taking the medication.

This study was published online Feb. 18 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The National Institutes of Health funded this research. Conflict of interest disclosures were not available at the time of publication.

Review Date: 
February 18, 2015
Last Updated:
February 19, 2015