Dr. Paul A. Sieving, director of the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, said prior to the test, conducted two years ago, Avastin and Lucentis had never been compared head-to-head.
Both drugs block growth of abnormal blood vessels and leakage of fluid from the vessels.
Avastin is approved for other indications and most clinicians use it on an as-needed basis when there is evidence of active disease, such as fluid leakage, Sieving said.
The drug trial was designed to compare Avastin and Lucentis with monthly and as-needed treatment schedules.
"Both drugs were highly effective regardless of the approach to dosing. There was slightly less vision gain with as-needed treatment," said Dr. Daniel F. Martin, study chair for the trial and chairman of the Cole Eye Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. "Patients seeking the small extra advantage of monthly treatment need to be mindful of the additional burden, risks, and costs of monthly injections. Since as-needed dosing required 10 fewer eye injections over the course of two years and yielded similar visual results, many patients may choose this option."
The findings were published in the journal Ophthalmology, while the first year results were published in the May 19, 2011, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.