Predicting the immediate impact of national lockdown on neovascular age-related macular degeneration and associated visual morbidity: an INSIGHT Health Data Research Hub for Eye Health report

Br J Ophthalmol. 2021 Sep 13;bjophthalmol-2021-319383. doi: 10.1136/bjophthalmol-2021-319383. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Predicting the impact of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) service disruption on visual outcomes following national lockdown in the UK to contain SARS-CoV-2.

Methods and analysis: This retrospective cohort study includes deidentified data from 2229 UK patients from the INSIGHT Health Data Research digital hub. We forecasted the number of treatment-naïve nAMD patients requiring anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) initiation during UK lockdown (16 March 2020 through 31 July 2020) at Moorfields Eye Hospital (MEH) and University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB). Best-measured visual acuity (VA) changes without anti-VEGF therapy were predicted using post hoc analysis of Minimally Classic/Occult Trial of the Anti-VEGF Antibody Ranibizumab in the Treatment of Neovascular AMD trial sham-control arm data (n=238).

Results: At our centres, 376 patients were predicted to require anti-VEGF initiation during lockdown (MEH: 325; UHB: 51). Without treatment, mean VA was projected to decline after 12 months. The proportion of eyes in the MEH cohort predicted to maintain the key positive visual outcome of ≥70 ETDRS letters (Snellen equivalent 6/12) fell from 25.5% at baseline to 5.8% at 12 months (UHB: 9.8%-7.8%). Similarly, eyes with VA <25 ETDRS letters (6/96) were predicted to increase from 4.3% to 14.2% at MEH (UHB: 5.9%-7.8%) after 12 months without treatment.

Conclusions: Here, we demonstrate how combining data from a recently founded national digital health data repository with historical industry-funded clinical trial data can enhance predictive modelling in nAMD. The demonstrated detrimental effects of prolonged treatment delay should incentivise healthcare providers to support nAMD patients accessing care in safe environments.

Trial registration number: NCT00056836.

Keywords: COVID-19; clinical trial; neovascularisation.

Associated data