Ehsan Rahimy, MD: The Importance of Continued Geographic Atrophy Screening

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A new IRIS registry analysis reports that many patients with geographic atrophy do not continue follow-up after initial visit or consultation.

A late-breaking study presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) 2020 Virtual Conference reported on progression patterns of geographic atrophy (GA) using the IRIS registry. This was the largest known retrospective database known to date.

A key finding from the analysis showed that patients were lost to follow-up after 2 years.

Patients included in the analysis had geographic atrophy (based on ICD-10 codes) in at least one eye. Excluded from the analysis were those with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD, wet AM) in the study eye prior to first recorded GA diagnosis during the study period, which spanned from early 2016 to late 2017. Those without 2-year follow-up data were also excluded.

Overall, the investigators identified over 256,000 individuals with GA. However, after applying the inclusion/exclusion criteria, they were left with 69,000 individuals.

In an interview with HCPLive®, study investigator Ehsan Rahimy, MD, Surgical and Medical Vitreoretinal Specialist, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, commented on the impications of this finding.

“That was rather eye-opening for us as investigators, because that just goes to show you patients that maybe show up for 1 visit or 1 consultation or appointment only to find out potentially that there’s no treatment,” he said.

He urged care providers to increase education efforts and encourage patients to remain in care.

“Patients still have a risk of converting from dry macular degeneration to wet macular degeneration,” Rahimy continued.

He pointed to another finding in his study, which showed that 3x more patients with nAMD in the fellow eye eventually developed wet AMD in the study eye—compared to patients with other types of presentations in the fellow eye.

Overall, he urged the importance of continued screening—not only for macular degeneration but for other comorbidities such as cataracts and glaucoma.