(dailyRx News) A medicine developed to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may also help patients with diabetic macular edema (DME), a new nationwide, government-funded study finds.
Eye injections of Lucentis® (ranibizumab) appear to treat DME (swelling of the macula, the area of the retina responsible for sharp vision, and cause of diabetic retinopathy) in conjunction with laser treatment better than laser treatment alone, according the study from the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research (DRCR) Network.
Almost half of the study patients who received the combined treatments experienced significant improvement in vision, compared with 28 percent who received laser treatment alone. Laser treatment by itself has served as the standard bearer of DME treatment for 25 years.
The study followed 691 participants at 52 clinical centers nationwide.
According to Neil M. Bressler, MD, chair of the nationwide DRCR Network, and Chief of the Retina Division, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, this two-prong treatment approach appears to benefit people who have DME in the center of the macula with some vision loss regardless of gender, the type of diabetes or age of the patient.
The researchers encouraged patients with diabetes to speak with their ophthamologists about whether this treatment option is appropriate for them, but advised some insurance companies do not cover DME at this time.
About 210,000 people in the US who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes suffer from diabetic macular edema, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.