BALTIMORE, April 29 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say ranibizumab plus laser treatment may help patients with diabetic macular edema.
The comparative-effectiveness study, published in Ophthalmology, found nearly 50 percent of patients had vision improve after one year of treatment with ranibizumab, or Lucentis, eye injections plus laser treatment given either promptly or deferred as much as a year.
Fewer than 5 percent of those treated experienced vision loss, the study said.
"These results indicate a treatment breakthrough for saving the vision of people with diabetic macular edema," researcher Dr. Neil Bressler of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore said in a statement.
Bressler noted laser treatment alone has been the standard treatment for the past 25 years for diabetes-associated vision loss due to swelling as damaged blood vessels leak fluid near the center of the retina -- the macula. The new eye injections, which block a chemical signal stimulating blood vessel growth, helped prevent blood vessels from leaking fluid.
Bressler and colleagues randomly assigned 691 patients in their early 60s diagnosed with diabetes and macular edema at 52 clinical sites -- 854 eyes -- to one of four study groups.
One group -- patients treated with prompt laser treatment but injected with another drug, a corticosteroid medication -- showed improvement but higher rates of complications such as high eye pressure and cataracts.