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Type 2 Diabetes – Is This Drug An Effective Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy?

The drug ranibizumab (Lucentis) received US Food and Drug Administration approval for treating diabetic retinopathy in 2009. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of Type 2 diabetes and can cause severe loss of vision. Damage to blood vessels in the back of the eye or retina, are damaged and grow new underdeveloped and fragile vessels in a futile attempt to restore normal circulation through the eye. New, inadequate vessels can bleed into the center of the eye causing blurred vision. The macula, the part of the eye where pictures are formed, can swell, also causing blurred eyesight.

Ranibizumab is an antibody developed to attack the molecule that causes the retinal vessels to overgrow and bleed. It is grown in harmless bacterial cells, harvested, and injected into the eye.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, USA, Harvard University in Boston, USA, and Genentech in San Francisco, USA, looked at the long-term effects of the drug ranibizumab over a period of three years. Their study, published in the journal Ophthalmology in November 2014, included 759 adults with swollen maculas due to diabetes. Their eyesight ranged from moderately to drastically reduced. After three years…

  • 15 percent of the patients treated with 0.3 mg of ranibizumab improved.
  • of those treated with 0.5 mg, 13.2 percent showed improvement.
  • the participants treated with a placebo only improved 3.3 percent of the time and got worse in 39.1 percent of cases.

Among those treated with the medication…

  • 18.3 percent of those treated with 0.3 percent, and
  • 17.1 percent treated with 0.5 mg

showed worsening of their condition.

From these results it was concluded that ranibizumab administered for three years could improve diabetic retinopathy and prevent the condition getting worse.

Ranibizumab is a liquid doctors inject into the eyes of his patients with diabetic retinopathy, usually once a month, although some patients might have different schedules…

  • anesthetic eye drops are given so the patient feels only mild pressure without discomfort.
  • antibiotic eye drops can be prescribed for a few days after the procedure to prevent infection.

Diabetics should always advise their doctor of any eye problems such as glaucoma, even if the eye problem has been successfully treated. All medications, including vitamins and supplements should also be reported.

As with any diabetic complication, early prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, so keeping blood sugar under control with diet, exercise, and medications if prescribed, is important.

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