Categories: ConditionsResearch

Prescription Medication May Help Reverse Vision Loss Caused by Diabetic Eye Disease in Certain Populations

Diabetes and EyesA common prescription medication for age-related vision loss called ranibizumab may hold the key to successfully treating vision loss caused by diabetes in Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites, according to a recent study led by researchers at USC Roski Eye Institute.

Currently, the standard treatment for diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathy, which are the leading causes of vision loss in working-age adults in the U.S, is typically laser surgery. Unfortunately, laser surgery has had relatively low success in treating the blurred vision of more advanced stages of diabetic eye diseases. Previous studies have found that only 30 percent of patients who underwent laser surgery experienced vision improvement.

What are Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema?

Diabetic retinopathy causes damage to the small blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in distorted vision or blindness. The condition progresses through four stages, in which the tiny blood vessels swell, potentially bleed, become blocked, and increase in number, ultimately damaging the cells of the retina if not treated.

Diabetic macular edema occurs when fluid builds up in the central region of the retina called the macula. The macula helps provide sharp, clear details and allows people to recognize faces and read. This condition develops as a result of diabetic retinopathy and can occur at any stage.

The symptoms of both of these diabetic eye diseases include seeing floating spots, blurred vision, or total vision loss.

Groundbreaking Research

Using a population-based model, director of the USC Roski Eye Institute, professor and chair of ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and Interim Dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Rohit Varma, M.D., M.P.H., and his research team determined that providing at least .3 milligrams of the prescription medication ranibizumab every four weeks to patients with diabetic macular edema could reduce the number of vision loss cases by at least 45 percent and the number of legal blindness cases by up to 75 percent.

Nearly 37,000 Hispanic and non-Hispanic white adults who had been diagnosed with diabetic macular edema in the U.S. participated in the study. The researchers believe that even more populations and ethnic groups may benefit from the vision-saving effects of ranibizumab.

“We found that ranibizumab can save the sight of thousands of working-age individuals suffering from diabetic eye disease, as standard treatments such as laser are not as effective,” said Dr. Varma.

Schedule an Appointment Today

Our expert ophthalmologists at USC Roski Eye Institute have extensive training and experience diagnosing and treating a wide variety of vision-threatening conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. To receive a comprehensive exam and ensure that your eyesight is carefully monitored, please complete our online contact form or call 323-348-1526 today! Remember that annual eye exams are an essential step in long-term eye care.

To learn more about our services or to support the Institute with a tax-deductible gift, please contact Rebecca Melville, senior director of development, via email at Rebecca.Melville@med.usc.edu or by calling USC Roski Eye Institute.

Next, read February is National AMD and Low Vision Awareness Month

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