The widespread use of drugs that bind diffusible vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has revolutionized the treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The pivotal ranibizumab and aflibercept registration trials featured monthly intravitreal injections for 12 months, during which visual acuities and macular edema rapidly improved for the first 3 months and modest gains or stabilization continued until the primary endpoint. In many subsequent trials, patients were evaluated monthly and treated as-needed (PRN) according to the results of visual acuity (VA) testing, fundus examinations and optical coherence tomography scans. Compared to monthly-treated control groups, PRN treated patients require fewer injections during the first year but they also experience smaller VA gains (1–3 letters). A small number of prospective trials that directly compared monthly with PRN therapy showed that VA gains with discontinuous therapy lag slightly behind those achieved with monthly injections. Physicians recognize that monthly office visits with frequent intraocular injections challenge patients’ compliance, accrue high drug and professional service costs, and clog office schedules with frequently returning patients. To decrease the numbers of both office visits and anti-VEGF injections without sacrificing VA gains, physicians have embraced the treat-and-extend strategy. Treat-and-extend has not been studied as rigorously as PRN but it has become popular among both vitreoretinal specialists and patients. Despite the possible risks associated with discontinuous therapy (decreased VA and increased macular fluid), most physicians individualize treatment (PRN or treat-and-extend) for the majority of their patients. This review chapter explores the many advantages of individualized therapy, while balancing these against suboptimal responses due to the decreased frequency of anti-VEGF injections.
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