New data presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) 2021 Virtual Sessions this week showed baseline diabetes severity metrics were not associated with worse likelihood of diabetic macular edema (DME) clearance among patients treated with anti-VEGF therapy aflibercept.

The outcomes, conducted and presented by experts from the Cleveland Clinic, helped correct preconceptions of what patient risk factors and demographic influence capability of DME clearance with the top-line drug class.

The findings also contributed to the annual meeting’s recurring topic of cardiometabolic disease influence on ophthalmic conditions including DME, a leading cause of blindness in the US.

In the second segment of an interview with HCPLive during ARVO 2021, study author Katherin Talcott, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute, discussed how the growing diabetes issue in the US will continue to affect visually-impaired patients—especially in this last year, due to COVID-19.

“I think the pandemic has been really hard for a lot of people in a lot of ways,” Talcott explained. “And a lot of our patients with diabetes who had been coming in have been lost to follow-up in the last year, and they have a lot worse macular edema or their diabetes is worse.”

Talcott advocated for more research including that presented at ARVO 2021 which sought projections of treatment response among diabetic patients, noting it’s a frequent practice by specialists to silo their practice from that of others, even when collaboration is opportune.

“I think that we all tend to, unfortunately, focus on our problem and forget about other parts of the body,” she said. “But when we see patients who have disease that’s out of control, that usually means their diabetes is not well-controlled in other reasons as well.”

She also highlighted her own team’s research into the prevalence of visual impairment in patients with diabetes who have suffered from limb loss, emphasizing the significant merging of patient needs.

“I think there’s a lot of overlap that we just don’t think about, and it’s part of the questions that we don’t think about asking,” Talcott said. “There’s definitely a lot more we could be doing to better communicate and understand how different organs are related in diabetes.”


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