Purpose: To evaluate the effect of repeated intravitreal ranibizumab injections for neovascular age related macular degeneration (nAMD) on the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness using optical coherence tomography.
Design: A prospective observational cohort study of patients with nAMD.
Methods: Thirty eyes of 30 patients with nAMD were selected. All patients received three ranibizumab injections and underwent scans using the fast RNFL thickness protocol (Stratus optical coherence tomography) before starting the first injection and 1 month after the third injection. The RNFL thickness measurements prior to the injections and after the third injection were used for the analysis. We also evaluated the effect of the lens status as well as the type of choroidal neovascular membrane on RNFL thickness measurements pre- and post-injection. Pre- and post-injection average and individual quadrant RNFL thickness were measured and statistically analyzed.
Results: The mean (± standard deviation) pre-injection RNFL thickness was 90.8±18. The mean (± standard deviation) post-injection RNFL thickness was 91.03±15. The pre- and post-injection values of the mean RNFL thickness were not statistically significant. Likewise, the pre- and post-injection values for RNFL thickness in the different quadrants were not statistically significant. There was no statistical significance for the lens status or the type of choroidal neovascular membrane on the RNFL thickness.
Conclusion: Repeated ranibizumab injections in nAMD appear to have no harmful effect on the RNFL thickness in the short term, in spite of the proven neurotrophic effect of vascular endothelial growth factor. Nevertheless, the safety profile of ranibizumab injections in nAMD needs to be further evaluated in a large multicenter trial with special emphasis on the long-term effects on the retina and optic nerve.
Keywords: anti-VEGF; intraocular pressure; optical coherence tomography; ranibizumab; retinal nerve fiber layer.