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Ranibizumab (Lucentis) Reverses Vision Loss Caused by Diabetes

Study finds drug may help reduce cases of blindness by 75%

Ranibizumab (Lucentis, Genentech), a prescription drug commonly used to treat age-related vision loss, also reverses vision loss caused by diabetes among Hispanic and non-Hispanic whites, according to a new study led by investigators at the University of Southern California Eye Institute. The study was published online in Ophthalmology.

Diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema are the leading causes of vision loss in working-age adults in the U.S., according to the National Eye Institute. Laser surgery is the standard treatment for advanced stages of the disease, which are characterized by blurred vision, but previous research has shown that only 30% of patients experienced improvement in their vision.

A population-based model developed by lead author Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, and his colleagues suggested that administering 0.3 mg of ranibizumab every 4 weeks to patients with diabetic macular edema would reduce the number of cases of vision impairment by 45% and the number of cases of legal blindness by 75%. The model was based on the approximately 37,000 Hispanic and non-Hispanic white adults with diabetic macular edema in the U.S. for whom ranibizumab treatment could be used.

Because other racial and ethnic groups were not included in the study, the authors contend that the treatment may benefit even more people than their results show.

Sources: EurekAlert; February 18, 2015; and Opthalmology; February 7, 2015.


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