Objectives: To investigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the treatment course of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) patients who received anti-VEGF injection therapy with real-life data.
Methods: This retrospective study consisted of 116 eyes of 106 patients . Ophthalmic examination, assessment of best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), optical coherence tomography (OCT) findings and data of last two visits before restrictions (V-2 and V-1) and the first visit (V0) after the release of national lockdown and subsequent visits (V1 and Vlast) were recorded . The lockdown period was determined by the time interval between March 11 and June 1 , 2020.Main results: The injection interval before V-1 was significantly longer than the interval after V0 (2.56±0.9 vs. 2.14±0.8 months, p=0.02). While the median central macular thickness (CMT) was significantly increased at V0 compared to V-1 [274 (132-711) vs. 238 (136-628), p <0.001], the median CMT was significantly lower at V1 compared to V0 [256 (136-591) vs. 274 (132-711), p=0.003]. The median BCVA was 0.67 (0.1-1.1) logMAR at V-1 and significantly worsened to 0.78 (0.1-1.2) logMAR at V0 (p=0.003). Although the median BCVA improved to 0.69 logMAR (0.1-1.2) at Vlast, the difference did not reach statistical significance compared to V0 (p=0.08).Conclusion: Treatment delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic cause progression of nAMD and visual impairment . To plan more frequent anti-VEGF treatments and visits may be an appropriate approach until the disease stabilizes . However, it should be kept in mind that despite the improvement in OCT findings, the desired success in VA could not be achieved in the short term.