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Injections Beat Laser for Retinopathy Treatment

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A new study sponsored by the U.S. National Eye Institute (NEI) reports the first major advancement in nearly four decades for treating proliferative diabetic retinopathy—the advanced stage of the diabetes-related eye disease.

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood glucose levels damage small blood levels in the retina. Proliferative retinopathy, the most dangerous form of the disease, is caused by the growth of these new abnormal blood vessels that originate from the retina and that can rupture and bleed into the eye’s center. The blood vessels can also cause the retina to detach from the back of the eye. In both cases, acute vision loss can result. The gold standard of therapy is a laser treatment called panretinal, or scatter, photocoagulation, which cuts the risk of blindness by more than 50 percent. Potential side effects of laser therapy, though, include a significant loss of side, or peripheral, vision and decreased night vision.

In the NEI study, published online in JAMA, researchers compared the effects of laser therapy (one or more treatments) with three monthly intraocular injections, and as needed thereafter, of the drug ranibizumab (Lucentis). Patients ages 44 to 59 were evaluated two years after their treatment. Researchers found that Lucentis improved vision better than laser therapy and carried little risk of peripheral vision loss.

The researchers also noted that Lucentis might help prevent a complication of diabetic retinopathy called diabetic macular edema. Lucentis is already FDA-approved to treat macular edema. The study found that 28 percent of patients in the laser therapy group developed macular edema, compared with only 9 percent in the Lucentis group. The researchers concluded that Lucentis might eventually be a viable alternative to laser therapy for patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy. They’ll continue following the patients in this study for a total of five years to assess longer-term outcomes. 



Posted in Diabetes on February 28, 2016

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Scientific American White Papers

    2016 Diabetes White Paper

    The Diabetes White Paper teaches you how to manage Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and avoid complications, such as nerve damage, heart disease, kidney failure, and retinopathy. This comprehensive report explains the basics of how your body metabolizes glucose and reviews the latest medications and tools for monitoring your blood glucose. Includes diagrams, glossary, and recent research.

    Read more or order now

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2016 Vision White Paper

Colin A. McCannel, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.R.C.S.C., is Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, and Medical Director of UCLA’s Stein Eye Center–Santa Monica. This comprehensive report is essential reading for anyone affected by a vision disorder, including low vision, cataracts, glaucoma, age related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.

Read more or order now

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