Topical bevacizumab therapy effective in treating corneal blood vessels growth that can cause blindness

Researchers at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Schepens Eye Research Institute have concluded that short-term topical bevacizumab therapy reduces the severity of corneal neovascularization (formation of new blood vessels in the cornea that can create impaired vision or vision loss) without local or systemic adverse effects.

Data from this study provide evidence that topical bevacizumab therapy could offer an alternative or adjunctive measure to conventional therapies in the treatment of corneal neovascularization. The results are currently published online on the Archives of Ophthalmology website at www.archophthalmol.com.

The study consisted of 10 patients with stable corneal neovasculariztion (NV) were treated with topical bevacizumab one percent for three weeks and followed up to 24 weeks. Baseline and sequential follow-up corneal photos were compared to assess the size and extent of corneal NV. For assessment of corneal NV, a novel quantitative method was used to measure three primary metrics, including neovascular area, vessel caliber, and neovessel invasion area. All local and systemic adverse events were monitored.

The patient population showed a significant reduction in two corneal NV metrics, including neovascular area and vessel caliber. From baseline visit to the last follow-up visit, the mean reduction was 47.1% ± 36.7% (P=0.001) for neovascular area and 54.1% ± 28.1 (and P < 0.001) for vessel caliber. The decrease in neovessel invasion area (12.2% ± 42.0%; P = 0.19) did not achieve statistical significance. Visual acuity and central corneal thickness showed no significant changes. Topical bevacizumab was well-tolerated with no adverse events. No significant changes were found in mean arterial pressure at any follow-up visit.

"These are important and exciting data since corneal neovascularization accounts for the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, after cataracts. The excellent efficacy and safety data in this study means that we can now offer select patients who get growth of new blood vessels in their corneas, from infection or injury, a new promising treatment," said the study's senior author Dr. Reza Dana, Director of the Cornea Service at Mass. Eye and Ear and the Claes Dohlman Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.

Founded in 1824, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary is an independent specialty hospital providing patient care for disorders of the eye, ear, nose, throat, head and neck. Mass. Eye and Ear is an international leader in Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology research and a teaching partner of Harvard Medical School. For more information, call 617-523-7900 or visit http://www.masseyeandear.org/.

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