Prognostic role of optical coherence tomography after switch to dexamethasone in diabetic macular edema



To analyze the visual outcome after early switch to dexamethasone (DEX) in eyes with diabetic macular edema previously treated with ranibizumab (RNB), based on structural spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) features.


Retrospective study of data from 28 eyes which underwent a loading dose of three monthly RNB injections and were then shifted to DEX implant injection. SD-OCT analysis was performed before switch to DEX (week 12, 12W) according to the presence of integrity of ellipsoid zone (EZ) and external limiting membrane (ELM), disorganization of retinal inner layers (DRIL), and quantity of hyper-reflective spots (HRS). Best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) changes at different time points after DEX (month 1, 1M; 4 months, 4M; and 12 months, 12M) were compared among groups.


Significantly better BCVA was achieved at 1M in eyes with intact EZ (84.2 ± 12.3 letters; p  =  0.04), with intact ELM (83.2 ± 11.5 letters; p < 0.01), and with fewer HRS (84.6 ± 12.5 letters; p = 0.03). However, the greatest percentage visual increase was achieved in eyes with disrupted EZ (+ 11.4%; p < 0.01), with disrupted ELM (+ 17.2%; p < 0.01), without DRIL (+ 12.5%; p < 0.01), and with more HRS (+ 14.3%; p = 0.04). After 12 months, a significant BCVA gain was observed only in eyes with intact retinal inner layers (+ 14.2%; p = 0.03).


Greater percentage BCVA improvement at 1M after switch to DEX was associated with EZ disruption, ELM disruption, intact retinal inner layers, and higher quantity of HRS. A switch to DEX therapy would be useful in patients with these SD-OCT features.

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The contribution by IRCCS Fondazione Bietti in this paper was financially supported by Italian Ministry of Health and Fondazione Roma. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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All the authors contributed to the conception or design of the work, the acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting the work, revising it critically for important intellectual content and gave final approval of the version to be published.

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Correspondence to Giuseppe Querques.

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Conflict of interest

Michele Cavalleri, Maria Vittoria Cicinelli, Riccardo Sacconi, Daniele De Geronimo: none. Francesco Bandello consultant for: Alcon (Fort Worth,Texas,USA), Alimera Sciences (Alpharetta, Georgia, USA), Allergan Inc (Irvine, California,USA), Farmila-Thea (Clermont-Ferrand, France), Bayer Shering-Pharma (Berlin, Germany), Bausch And Lomb (Rochester, New York, USA), Genentech (San Francisco, California, USA), Hoffmann-La-Roche (Basel, Switzerland), NovagaliPharma (Évry, France), Novartis (Basel, Switzerland), Sanofi-Aventis (Paris, France), Thrombogenics (Heverlee,Belgium), Zeiss (Dublin, USA). Giuseppe Querques consultant for: Alimera Sciences (Alpharetta, Georgia, USA), Allergan Inc (Irvine, California,USA), Heidelberg (Germany), Novartis (Basel, Switzerland), Bayer Shering-Pharma (Berlin, Germany), Zeiss (Dublin, USA). Mariacristina Parravano consultant for: Allergan Inc (Irvine, California, USA), Bayer Shering-Pharma (Berlin, Germany), Novartis (Basel, Switzerland). Monica Varano consultant for: Allergan Inc (Irvine, California, USA), Bayer Shering-Pharma (Berlin, Germany), Novartis (Basel, Switzerland).

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This study was conducted in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

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Cavalleri, M., Cicinelli, M.V., Parravano, M. et al. Prognostic role of optical coherence tomography after switch to dexamethasone in diabetic macular edema. Acta Diabetol 57, 163–171 (2020).

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  • Diabetic macular edema
  • Anti-VEGF
  • Dexamethasone
  • Optical coherence tomography