Although vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a crucial factor in neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) and the target of intravitreal treatment, it’s also involved in the pathway for antidepressant medications. In an effort to understand how antidepressant use may impact anti-VEGF therapy, researchers analyzed treatment protocols using ranibizumab or aflibercept in a variable-dosing regimen.

After comparing retreatment rates with antidepressant medication intake and other ocular factors, the researchers found a significant correlation between antidepressant use and the need for retreatment with anti-VEGF, at baseline and at month three.

Of the 206 patients in the study, 19 were taking antidepressants, and their eyes with nAMD more often had pigment epithelium detachment. In addition to the need for more frequent retreatment, patients taking antidepressants had thicker central retinal thicknesses at three months.

“This study provides evidence that treatment with antidepressant medication increases the anti-VEGF retreatment requirement in patients with nAMD, possibly through the interplay of antidepressant medication, depression status and VEGF levels,” the study concludes.

Mantel I, Zola M, Mir O, et al. Antidepressant medication and ocular factors in association with the need for anti-VEGF retreatment in neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Br J Ophthalmol. July 20, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].