Nurses can deliver eye injections for patients with the wet form of age-related macular degeneration as safely and effectively as doctors, according to a UK study.
Eye injections of medication have revolutionized the treatment of blinding eye diseases, including wet AMD and diabetic macular oedema.
Training nurses to supplement the treatments delivered by physicians allows more patients to safely receive these effective therapies, said researchers from Cheltenham General Hospital and the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
“Nurses have played an important role in increasing treatment capacity and their endophthalmitis rate was comparable to that of doctors”
They found that patients had the same rates of eye infection – a rare complication of the treatment – regardless of whether the treatment was delivered by a doctor or nurse.
The study looked at rates of postoperative endophthalmitis following injections of intravitreal anti-VEGF – anti-vascular endothelial growth factor – in 31,561 cases from 2006-14.
The unit involved in the study used predominantly ranibizumab but data regarding bevacizumab and aflibercept were also analyzed.
During the study period, presumed infective endophthalmitis occurred in 21 eyes of 21 patients, giving an incidence of 0.067% per injection, 0.66% per eye and 0.81% per patient.
The researchers noted that since nurses began administering injections in 2012, 17,968 anti-VEGFs have been given.
Of these 5,692 were given by nurses and 12,276 by doctors with six cases of endophthalmitis in each group, they said.
“Nurses have played an important role in increasing treatment capacity and their endophthalmitis rate was comparable to that of doctors,” stated the study authors.
The research was presented earlier this week at the 2015 annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology in Denver, Colorado.
More information can be found in the study abstract, which has been published by the association in its conference programme.