Levodopa Is Associated with Reduced Development of Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Max J. Hyman, Dimitra Skondra, Nitika Aggarwal, John Moir, Nick Boucher, Brian S. McKay, Mathew W. MacCumber, Jeremy A. Lavine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether levodopa (L-DOPA) is associated with a reduced likelihood of developing neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Design: Three studies were performed: retrospective analyses in the Vestrum Health Retina Database (#1–2) and case-control analysis in the Merative MarketScan Research Databases (#3). Participants: Eyes with neovascular AMD and 2 years of follow-up (#1). Eyes with non-neovascular AMD and 1 to 5 years of follow-up (#2). Patients aged ≥ 55 years with newly diagnosed neovascular AMD matched to controls without neovascular AMD (#3). Methods: Eyes were divided into 2 groups (#1–2): exposed to L-DOPA before or on the date of neovascular (#1) or nonneovascular (#2) AMD diagnosis, and eyes not exposed to L-DOPA. We extracted AMD risk factors, number of intravitreal injections (#1), and conversion rate to neovascular AMD (#2). We calculated the percentage of newly diagnosed neovascular AMD cases and matched controls exposed to any L-DOPA and determined the cumulative 2-year dose in grams by tertiles (< 100 mg, approximately 100–300 mg, and approximately > 300 mg per day, #3). Main Outcome Measures: Number of intravitreal injections (#1) and detection of new-onset neovascular AMD (#2–3) after adjusting for AMD risk factors. Results: In the Vestrum database, eyes with neovascular AMD that were exposed to L-DOPA underwent 1 fewer intravitreal injection over 2 years (N = 84 088 control vs. 530 L-DOPA eyes, P = 0.006). In eyes with nonneovascular AMD (N = 42 081–203 155 control vs. 314–1525 L-DOPA eyes), L-DOPA exposure was associated with a reduced risk of conversion to neovascular AMD by 21% at year 2 (P = 0.029), 35% at years 3 to 4 (P < 0.001), and 28% at year 5 (P = 0.024). In the MarketScan databases (N = 86 900 per group), cumulative 2-year doses of L-DOPA between approximately 100 to 300 mg per day and approximately > 300 mg were associated with decreased odds of developing neovascular AMD by 15% (odds ratio [OR], 0.85; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.75–0.97) and 23% (OR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.67–0.87), respectively. Conclusions: Levodopa use was associated with reduced detection of new-onset neovascular AMD. A prospective, randomized clinical trial should be considered to investigate whether low-dose L-DOPA reduces neovascular AMD conversion. Financial Disclosure(s): Proprietary or commercial disclosure may be found in the Footnotes and Disclosures at the end of this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-752
Number of pages8
JournalOphthalmology Retina
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Levodopa
  • Neovascular age-related macular degeneration
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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