Objective: To determine if photodynamic therapy with verteporfin (Visudyne; CIBA Vision Corp, Duluth, Ga) can safely reduce the risk of vision loss in patients with subfoveal choroidal neovascularization (CNV) caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Design: Two multicenter, double-masked, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trials.
Setting: Twenty-two ophthalmology practices in Europe and North America.
Participants: Patients with subfoveal CNV lesions caused by AMD measuring 5400 microm or less in greatest linear dimension with evidence of classic CNV and best-corrected visual acuity of approximately 20/40 to 20/200.
Methods: Six hundred nine patients were randomly assigned (2: 1) to verteporfin (6 mg per square meter of body surface area) or placebo (5% dextrose in water) administered via intravenous infusion of 30 mL over 10 minutes. Fifteen minutes after the start of the infusion, a laser light at 689 nm delivered 50J/cm2 at an intensity of 600 mW/cm2 over 83 seconds using a spot size with a diameter 1000 microm larger than the greatest linear dimension of the CNV lesion. At follow-up examinations every 3 months, retreatment with the same regimen was applied if angiography showed fuorescein leakage. The primary outcome was the proportion of eyes with fewer than 15 letters lost (approximately <3 lines of loss), adhering to an intent-to-treat analysis.
Results: In each group, 94% of patients completed the month 12 examination. Visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and fluorescein angiographic outcomes were better in the verteporfin-treated eyes than in the placebo-treated eyes at every follow-up examination through the month 12 examination. At the month-12 examination, 246 (61%) of 402 eyes assigned to verteporfin compared with 96 (46%) of 207 eyes assigned to placebo had lost fewer than 15 letters of visual acuity from baseline (P<.001). In subgroup analyses, the visual acuity benefit (< 15 letters lost) of verteporfin therapy was clearly demonstrated (67% vs 39%; P<.001) when the area of classic CNV occupied 50% or more of the area of the entire lesion (termed predominantly classic CNV lesions), especially when there was no occult CNV. No statistically significant differences in visual acuity were noted when the area of classic CNV was more than 0% but less than 50% of the area of the entire lesion. Few ocular or other systemic adverse events were associated with verteporfin treatment, compared with placebo, including transient visual disturbances (18% vs 12%), injection-site adverse events (13% vs 3%), transient photosensitivity reactions (3% vs 0%), and infusion-related low back pain (2% vs 0%).
Conclusions: Since verteporfin therapy of subfoveal CNV from AMD can safely reduce the risk of vision loss, we recommend verteporfin therapy for treatment of patients with predominantly classic CNV from AMD.