The National Institutes of Health-supported study by the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network showed ranibizumab (Lucentis) eye injections combined with laser treatment result in better vision than laser treatment alone for diabetes-associated swelling of the retina.
The researchers said although laser treatment alone has been the standard care for 25 years, nearly 50 percent of patients who received the new treatment experienced substantial visual improvement after one year, compared with 28 percent who received the standard laser treatment.
"These results indicate a treatment breakthrough for saving the vision of people with diabetic macular edema," said Dr. Neil Bressler, chief of the retina division of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University. "Eye injections of ranibizumab with prompt or deferred laser treatment should now be considered for patients with characteristics similar to those in this clinical trial."
The researchers said diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss in working-age Americans. The condition damages small blood vessels in the eye's retinal tissue. That results in blood vessel leakage and causes swelling that can lead to vision loss if left untreated.
The study is reported in the early online edition of the journal Ophthalmology.