Study shows Lucentis improves outcomes in diabetic macular edema treatment

Posted by: Dr. Damon Dierker on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 12:00:00 am

For years, the standard treatment for diabetic macular edema (DME) has been laser. The goal of laser treatment is prevention of severe vision loss. In patients who have already lost vision, laser improves vision in only 20-30% of cases. Retina specialists have used intraocular injections of steroids and anti-VEGF drugs to try and reduce swelling further and improve vision. A press release from the National Eye Institute (NEI) yesterday announced the results of a study involving intraocular injections of steroids (triamcinolone) and the anti-VEGF agent ranibizumab (Lucentis) in combination with laser in the treatment of DME. Lucentis injections, often in combination with laser treatment, improved vision at 1 year in almost 50% of patients. Laser treament alone improved vision in 28% of patients. In patients with a history of cataract surgery, those treated with steroids showed a similar improvement to those treated with Lucentis. However, side effects were much more common in the steroid arm of the study. While many retina specialists have been using injections to treat DME, this is the first large study to show a significant improvement in vision in patients treated with Lucentis. However, Lucentis is currently not FDA-approved for this indication.