Fluocinolone acetonide intravitreal implant for diabetic macular edema: a 3-year multicenter, randomized, controlled clinical trial

Ophthalmology. 2011 Aug;118(8):1580-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2011.02.048.


Purpose: We studied the 3-year efficacy and safety results of a 4-year study evaluating fluocinolone acetonide (FA) intravitreal implants in eyes with persistent or recurrent diabetic macular edema (DME).

Design: Prospective, evaluator-masked, controlled, multicenter clinical trial.

Participants: We included 196 eyes with refractory DME.

Methods: Patients were randomized 2:1 to receive 0.59-mg FA implant (n = 127) or standard of care (SOC additional laser or observation; n = 69). The implant was inserted through a pars plana incision. Visits were scheduled on day 2, weeks 1, 3, 6, 12, and 26, and thereafter every 13 weeks through 3 years postimplantation.

Main outcome measures: The primary efficacy outcome was ≥15-letter improvement in visual acuity (VA) at 6 months. Secondary outcomes included resolution of macular retinal thickening and Diabetic Retinopathy Severity Score (DRSS). Safety measures included incidence of adverse events (AEs).

Results: Overall, VA improved ≥3 lines in 16.8% of implanted eyes at 6 months (P=0.0012; SOC, 1.4%); in 16.4% at 1 year (P=0.1191; SOC, 8.1%); in 31.8% at 2 years (P=0.0016; SOC, 9.3%); and in 31.1% at 3 years (P=0.1566; SOC, 20.0%). The number of implanted eyes with no evidence of retinal thickening at the center of the macula was higher than SOC eyes at 6 months (P<0.0001), 1 year (P<0.0001; 72% vs 22%), 2 years (P=0.016), and 3 years (P=0.861). A higher rate of improvement and lower rate of decline in DRSS occurred in the implanted group versus the SOC group at 6 months (P=0.0006), 1 year (P=0.0016), 2 years (P=0.012), and 3 years (P=0.0207). Intraocular pressure (IOP) ≥30 mmHg was recorded in 61.4% of implanted eyes (SOC, 5.8%) at any time and 33.8% required surgery for ocular hypertension by 4 years. Of implanted phakic eyes, 91% (SOC, 20%) had cataract extraction by 4 years.

Conclusions: The FA intravitreal implant met the primary and secondary outcomes, with significantly improved VA and DRSS and reduced DME. The most common AEs included cataract progression and elevated IOP. The 0.59-mg FA intravitreal implant may be an effective treatment for eyes with persistent or recurrent DME.

Financial disclosure(s): Proprietary or commercial disclosure may be found after the references.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cataract / chemically induced
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / diagnosis
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / drug therapy*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / physiopathology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Implants
  • Female
  • Fluocinolone Acetonide / administration & dosage*
  • Fluocinolone Acetonide / adverse effects
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure / drug effects
  • Intraocular Pressure / physiology
  • Macular Edema / diagnosis
  • Macular Edema / drug therapy*
  • Macular Edema / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Retina / drug effects
  • Retina / pathology
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity / drug effects
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Vitreous Body / drug effects*


  • Drug Implants
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Fluocinolone Acetonide