When is a needle in the eye better than the alternative? When it works.
A new clinical trial reveals that Lucentis, an injectable drug used to treat diabetic macular edema (DME) can be just as a effective as laser eye surgery at treating proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). The study was conducted by the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School researchers.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood vessels in the eye cause fluid to leak into the retina; the condition is caused by chronically high blood sugar levels. Diabetic retinopathy can worsen into proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). This is when blood leaks into the vitreous in the middle of the eye, which can severely damage eyesight. This form of retinopathy is the most common cause of blindness among working-age Americans.
The trial took place at 55 clinical sites across America and measured 394 PDR-affected eyes of 305 people. Over the course of two years, participants were given either Lucentis injections or laser eye surgery. The goal was to determine if the injectable drug Lucentis could be just as effective as laser surgery at treating this disease.
Researchers found that fewer patients treated with Lucentis needed surgery to remove vitreous after the trial than those who underwent laser eye surgery. Also, patients treated with Lucentis experienced less loss of peripheral vision than those who underwent laser eye surgery.
In the past, there have been few options for treating diabetic retinopathy. That’s why the FDA fast-tracked the application process for Lucentis to treat the condition. It granted approval for the drug’s expanded use in early 2015.
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