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Early response to ranibizumab predictive of functional outcome after dexamethasone for unresponsive diabetic macular oedema


Purpose To analyse the effects of intravitreal dexamethasone implant in patients suffering from diabetic macular oedema (DME) on the basis of their visual and functional response to antivascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) loading dose, in order to early shift to corticosteroids in poorly responding patients.

Design Retrospective monocentric study.

Methods Data of patients with diabetes shifted to 0.7 mg dexamethasone implant after three injections of ranibizumab (RNB) and followed-up to 12 months were reviewed. Main outcome was the evaluation of short-term changes after dexamethasone implant injection, stratifying patients on the basis of best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) and central macular thickness (CMT) after RNB loading dose. Secondary outcome was to investigate clinical gain maintenance at long-term follow-up.

Results Overall, 45 eyes of 45 patients (23 males, 51.1%), mean age 69.7±9 years, were included in the analysis. After 3 injections of RNB, 30 eyes (66.7%) had a poor visual response (−4.3±10.7 letters), while 15 eyes (33.3%) disclosed good visual outcome (+13.9±9.2 letters). Patients with poor visual response were associated with limited morphological improvement (p=0.04). After 1 month from dexamethasone, only poor responders showed relevant increase in BCVA (p=0.006) and reduction in CMT (p=0.002), in comparison to good visual response patients, featuring only minor clinical effects (p=0.3). The same trend was maintained up to 12 months, after a mean of 1.9±1.1 dexamethasone administrations.

Conclusion Visual and anatomical responses after RNB loading dose are significant predictors of both early term and long-term visual acuity improvement after switching to corticosteroids in patients with DME unresponsive to anti-VEGF.

  • diabetic macular edema
  • anti-VEGF
  • dexamethasone
  • ranibizumab

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