PURPOSE: To examine trends in the treatment of newly diagnosed neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.
METHODS: Among 284 380 Medicare beneficiaries with a new diagnosis between 2006 and 2008, we used the cumulative incidence function to estimate procedure rates and the mean frequency function to estimate the cumulative mean number of intravitreous injections. We used Cox log-binomial regression to estimate predictors of the use of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) antagonists within 1 year after diagnosis. Discontinuation of anti-VEGF therapy was defined by absence of treatment for 12 months. Discontinuation rates were calculated using the Kaplan-Meier method.
RESULTS: The proportion of patients receiving anti-VEGF therapy increased from 60.3% to 72.7%, photodynamic therapy decreased from 12.8% to 5.3%, and thermal laser treatment decreased from 5.5% to 3.2%. Black patients (hazard ratio, 0.77; 95% confidence interval, 0.75-0.79) and patients of other/unknown race (0.83; 0.81-0.84) were less likely than white patients to receive anti-VEGF therapy. Patients with dementia were less likely to receive anti-VEGF therapy (0.88; 0.88-0.89). Among patients who received anti-VEGF therapy, the mean number of injections within 1 year of the first injection was 4.3 per treated eye. Anti-VEGF therapy was discontinued in 53.6% of eyes within 1 year, and in 61.7% of eyes within 18 months.
CONCLUSIONS: Treatment of new neovascular AMD changed significantly between 2006 and 2008, most notably in the increasing use of anti-VEGF therapies. However, few patients treated with anti-VEGF medications received monthly injections, and discontinuation rates were high.