Topical Interferon Alpha 2b in the Treatment of Refractory Diabetic Macular Edema


Purpose: To report the efficacy of topical interferon alpha 2b in the treatment of refractory diabetic macular edema.

Methods: In this retrospective interventional case series, five eyes of three individuals with diabetic macular edema resistant to multiple intravitreal injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor drugs and macular photocoagulation were included.

Results: All studied eyes had undergone multiple intravitreal injections including bevacizumab, combination of bevacizumab and triamcinolone and aflibercept, and macular laser photocoagulation before being included in this study. Two intravitreal ranibizumab injections had also been performed in both eyes of one patient. Two eyes had undergone pars plana vitrectomy, one for diabetic macular edema and the other for rhegmatogenous retinal detachment. After a discussion regarding the experimental topical interferon alpha 2b treatment, all patients agreed to start interferon alpha 2b drops four times a day. One month after the treatment, optical coherence tomography demonstrated a significant improvement in macular structure and thickness which was stable or improved at the three-month follow-up visit. Visual acuity in all eyes was stable or improved throughout the three-month follow-up period. Conjunctival injection and follicular conjunctivitis were the side effects of topical interferon alpha 2b and were treated with lubrication and steroids.

Conclusion: This case series demonstrated the potential efficacy of interferon alpha 2b in the treatment of refractory diabetic macular edema. It might be an option in patients with contraindications for intravitreal injections.


Diabetic Macular Edema, Interferon α2b

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