Injectable Drug Shows Huge Benefit for Diabetic Eye Disease

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Dr. Lloyd Paul Aiello, M.D., Ph.D., is Director of the Beetham Eye Institute (BEI) at Joslin Diabetes Center

The injectable drug that leads to huge improvements in the eyes of people with diabetic macular edema has proven to also be effective for people with proliferative diabetic retinopathy. A new clinical trial involving more than 300 people has shown that Lucentis, the injectable drug, not only treats macular edema, but also is as effective as laser surgery for proliferative diabetic retinopathy.  Treatment for both diseases also can often restore vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye complication and the leading cause of blindness in working age Americans. It causes vision loss in two principal ways: macular edema occurs when blood vessels in the back of the eye are damaged and leak causing the retina to swell; proliferative diabetic retinopathy happens when diseased blood vessels grow in attempts to provide more blood to the retina but causing scar tissue, bleeding and vision loss.

Lloyd Paul Aiello, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Beetham Eye Institute (BEI) and Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, and George King, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Joslin Diabetes Center and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, were part of a team that discovered that an injectable treatment stops the action of the molecule that causes diabetic retinopathy. That drug has been used to treat macular edema since clinical trials proved its effectiveness in 2010. The new study is the first trial to show that the injectable treatment can be successfully used for proliferative diabetic retinopathy also.

The trial included 305 people. Many of the participants needed treatment in both eyes, leading to a total of 394 eyes evaluated in the trial. The participants were randomized to either get traditional laser treatment or the Lucentis injections. They were then monitored for a period of two years. When the trial was finished, the Lucentis group showed improved vision overall, less development of macular edema, little need for laser and far less loss of peripheral vision than the laser treatment.

Follow-up studies will confirm these findings and test to see if providing injection treatments earlier in the course of diabetic eye disease would prevent the development of both proliferative diabetic retinopathy and macular edema.

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5 Responses to Injectable Drug Shows Huge Benefit for Diabetic Eye Disease

  1. Emilie says:

    if this treatment was proven to be effective, was it offered to the ones who did not get it in this study? I would not want to be a guinea pig in any study;if I was not given the chance to get the treatment that did work…

  2. Allen Mark says:

    It is very good news for diabetes patients in the start of 2016. If follow-up studies will show successful results then it will be a great breakthrough in treating diabetes & disorders associated with it.

  3. Sarah says:

    Help I am lactost intolerant and sensitive to wheat I need to loss weight it won’t come off please help me find he food or diet I can eat ..type 2 a1cis81/2 I have hard time with medforman need to rake something sugar is 350 or 400 in morning.


  4. Diana Itzcovich says:

    Congratulations for the hard research work my Dear Dr .Lloyd Paul Aiello is doing to help all the community with Diabetes ….I will always be thankfull to him , his father Dr Lloyd Aiello , Dr Saberah Shah ,Dr Jerry Cavallerano and all doctors working at Joslin !!!

  5. bernard natt says:

    Good morning,
    I am a CDE and a pharmacist.
    I am an outreach volunteer with the American Diabetes Association focusing on Screen at 23 and the 50% of Asians with diabetes that are undiagnosed.
    I am in New York .
    The Asian population is the fastest growing in the US and New York City is the fastest growing area.
    How have you been able to reach out to the undiagnosed to have them screened?

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