Older treatment is More Effective than New Treatment in Preserving Sight for Some Patients with Diabetes
A promising new drug therapy used to treat abnormal swelling
in the eye proved less effective than traditional laser treatments
in a National Eye Institute study.
Akinso: A promising new drug therapy used to treat abnormal swelling in the eye proved less effective than traditional laser treatments in a National Eye Institute study.
Chew: This study compared the standard treatment with laser, with a more experimental treatment which is the injection of steroids.
Akinso: Dr. Emily Chew is the Deputy Director of Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the NEI.
Chew: The steroid could cause an increase in pressure causing glaucoma, it can also increase the risk of cataract.
Akinso: The study compared the effectiveness between treatments on a condition known as diabetic macular edema. Diabetic macular edema occurs when the center part of the eye's retina, called the macula, swells—possibly leading to blindness. Dr. Chew says between 40 and 45 percent of the 18 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes have vision problems such as diabetic macular edema.
Chew: Diabetic macular edema occur in patients with diabetes. The macular refers to the center part of the eye that gives you best vision. And the retina is perfectly flat when it's in good health, but with diabetes the blood vessels leak out fluid and it makes the retina very swollen. So macular edema is one of the major causes of blurred vision in diabetics.
Akinso: Ophthalmologists traditionally use lasers to reduce the swelling in areas of the macula. However, recently, early reports of success in treating diabetic macular edema with injections of a corticosteroid called triamcinolone led to the rise in popularity of this alternative therapy. Dr. Chew talks about how the two treatment options compared.
Chew: The study showed that at one year the vision wasn't actually different between the steroid people and the laser treated folks. At two years, people who had laser actually did better. So the standard treatment was actually better than the steroids treatment.Akinso: Researchers found that, while not as effective as the laser treatment, corticosteroid treatment did provide some benefit. Dr. Chew says the findings raise the possibility that combining laser with the corticosteroids therapy might produce greater benefit. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Emily Chew
Topic: Diabetes, Diabetic macular edema, vision, treatment