Background: Even during consistent anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy a reactivation of exudative age-related macular degeneration (AMD) lesions can be observed in many patients. The present case series examined whether a switch from ranibizumab to aflibercept is safe and whether differences in potency can be observed.
Patients and methods: In 56 consecutive patients with recurrent activity of AMD according to the morphological criteria of the spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) examination, a change to aflibercept was made after 6-41 (mean 18.9, SD 6.3) injections with ranibizumab. In all controls and before each injection logMAR visual acuity was measured and a SD-OCT (volume scan) was performed in addition to the clinical examination.
Results: The mean visual acuity was stable under both therapies. The analysis of the morphological parameters showed a greater reduction of the retinal thickness after the change in therapy (mean retinal thickness within 1000 μm and central foveal thickness) compared to the initial treatment. The changes in the subretinal fluid as well as the height of an associated pigment epithelial detachment (PED) did not show any significant differences. The analysis of the morphological parameters at the level of the photoreceptors showed a decrease in discontinuity in the ellipsoid layer and also in the external limiting membrane (ELM).
Conclusion: In patients with recurrent or high SD-OCT-based activity of exudative AMD lesions, a switch of the treatment strategy from ranibizumab to aflibercept can achieve a new functional stability in spite of multiple pretreatment. We found morphological indications of a regression of intraretinal edema and improvement in the photoreceptor area. In the context of a well-defined treatment strategy, a switch from anti-VEGF therapy to a similar active substance is safe. Before a definitive evaluation can be made, prospective controlled conditions are required to verify the clinical benefits of the switch.