Background: To identify factors and problems influencing treatment adherence in patients undergoing anti-VEGF therapy for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) under real-life conditions.
Methods: Cross-sectional study was conducted of 95 patients receiving ranibizumab therapy on a pro re nata (PRN) regimen with monthly controls in a tertiary health care clinic. Monthly controls included best corrected visual acuity, slit-lamp examination and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography. Adherence was measured using Kaplan-Meier time-to-discontinuation analysis. Patients were asked to respond to a 16-item questionnaire covering items such as anxiety, subjective benefit, and financial issues of therapy.
Results: Forty-two men and 53 women were included. After a mean follow-up time of 675 days (range 63-1008), adherence was 81.1% (77/95). The mean number of follow-up visits was 19 (3-30), the mean number of intravitreal injections was ten (3-23). Seven patients withdrew from treatment due to subjective dissatisfaction with benefit. Other reasons for loss to follow-up were death in one case, serious general disease in three patients, and treatment options closer to home in five cases. Two patients cancelled further follow-up after treatment cessation due to terminal fibrosis. 62.1% of patients were afraid of a negative examination result, whereas 19.0% were afraid of intravitreal injections. A major problem was travel to and from the hospital (46.3%), with 61.5% of patients requiring escort.
Conclusion: Despite necessary monthly visits, patients showed a high adherence to therapy. The major problem was travel to and from the hospital. From the patients' point of view, anxiety of a negative examination result was more pronounced than fear of intraocular injections, which would be an argument for continuous injections rather than for a PRN regimen.