Visual outcomes in the management of diabetic maculopathy in Central Australia Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE:In major urban centres and high-resource settings, treatment of diabetic maculopathy with anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) injections has largely displaced laser treatment. However, intravitreal therapy alone requires frequent follow-up, a barrier to adherence in remote Australia. We report vision outcomes of phased diabetic maculopathy treatment in remote Central Australia for maculopathy using laser and, in a subset, supplementary injection treatment. METHODS:We audited clinical records of patients undergoing laser treatment for diabetic maculopathy between 2001 and 2013 at an ophthalmology service based at Alice Springs Hospital, a regional hub in remote Australia. All patients receiving macular laser treatment were included, and some required supplementary injection(s). The primary outcome measure was change in best-corrected visual acuity [BCVA] from baseline treatment. RESULTS:Of 338 maculopathy-treated patients, 88% were indigenous and 39% were male. Of 554 maculopathy laser-treated eyes, 118 (21%) received supplementary injection/s. In the laser treatment phase, median BCVA was 78 letters at baseline (interquartile range 62-80) and decreased by a median of two letters at final visit. In the subset who underwent subsequentinjection treatment, BCVA was 60 letters at first injection, with a median five-letter increase by final visit. Overall outcomes were similar in Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Predictors of reduction in BCVA in the macular laser treatment phase were better baseline BCVA, older age, and PRP treatment (all p < .005). CONCLUSION:Laser treatment for diabetic maculopathy preserved vision in Central Australia, where barriers to follow-up can preclude regular injections. Supplementary injections stabilized vision in the laser-resistant subset.

publication date

  • 2020