Experiences of patients undergoing anti-VEGF treatment for neovascular age-related macular degeneration: A systematic review Academic Article uri icon


  • Current therapy to slow disease progression in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) often entails intra-vitreal injection of an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) agent, that begins with a three-month loading phase of four weekly injections followed by regular monthly visits with clinician-determined re-treatment. The effects of AMD on quality of life and visual function have been extensively reported in the literature, however, less is known about the burden imposed on patients by the arduous and often indefinite treatment schedule which habitually follows a diagnosis of wet AMD. To date, no systematic review has been conducted of research investigating patients' experiences of anti-VEGF treatment for AMD. A systematic search of the Embase, Medline, PsycINFO and PubMed electronic databases was undertaken to identify all studies between January 2004 and December 2013, published in the English language and involving human participants. A hand-search of an additional four journals was conducted. Ten articles were identified for inclusion in this review. A critical appraisal was undertaken using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme Qualitative Research Checklist and the results synthesised to form a narrative review. Few studies to date have investigated patients' experiences of treatment for AMD. These studies have focused primarily on patients' experiences of the injection procedure with respect to pain and anxiety. Anticipated discomfort is often greater than actual discomfort experienced during intra-vitreal injection. However, different stages of the treatment procedure produce varying levels of patient discomfort. No one method of anaesthesia has consistently been shown to be more effective in reducing discomfort associated with treatment. Common reasons underlying patient apprehension surrounding treatment include the thought of having an injection, fear of losing eyesight and fear of the unknown. Whilst these studies have not been without their methodological limitations, they provide a platform for further exploration of the patient experience.

publication date

  • 2015