Purpose Are existing systematic reviews of interventions for age-related macular degeneration incorporated into clinical practice guidelines? Design High-quality systematic reviews should be used to underpin evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and clinical care. We examined the reliability of systematic reviews of interventions for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and described the main findings of reliable reviews in relation to clinical practice guidelines. Methods Eligible publications were systematic reviews of the effectiveness of treatment interventions for AMD. We searched a database of systematic reviews in eyes and vision without language or date restrictions; the database was up to date as of May 6, 2014. Two authors independently screened records for eligibility and abstracted and assessed the characteristics and methods of each review. We classified reviews as reliable when they reported eligibility criteria, comprehensive searches, methodologic quality of included studies, appropriate statistical methods for meta-analysis, and conclusions based on results. We mapped treatment recommendations from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Preferred Practice Patterns (PPPs) for AMD to systematic reviews and citations of reliable systematic reviews to support each treatment recommendation. Results Of 1570 systematic reviews in our database, 47 met inclusion criteria; most targeted neovascular AMD and investigated anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) interventions, dietary supplements, or photodynamic therapy. We classified 33 (70%) reviews as reliable. The quality of reporting varied, with criteria for reliable reporting met more often by Cochrane reviews and reviews whose authors disclosed conflicts of interest. Anti-VEGF agents and photodynamic therapy were the only interventions identified as effective by reliable reviews. Of 35 treatment recommendations extracted from the PPPs, 15 could have been supported with reliable systematic reviews; however, only 1 recommendation cited a reliable intervention systematic review. No reliable systematic review was identified for 20 treatment recommendations, highlighting areas of evidence gaps. Conclusions For AMD, reliable systematic reviews exist for many treatment recommendations in the AAO PPPs and should be cited to support these recommendations. We also identified areas where no high-level evidence exists. Mapping clinical practice guidelines to existing systematic reviews is one way to highlight areas where evidence generation or evidence synthesis is either available or needed.
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