New treatment to improve vision loss for diabetics
31 Jan 2011
Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK has announced the launch in the UK
of Lucentis (ranibizumab) for the treatment of visual impairment due to
diabetes, specifically diabetic macular oedema (DMO).
It is the first licensed therapy to improve vision and
vision-related quality of life in people with visual impairment due
For people with diabetes, visual impairment is one of the most
feared complications of the condition and is often caused by DMO.
People with visual impairment due to DMO are less able to live and
Until now, laser treatment has been the standard treatment,
offering stabilisation of vision loss but no significant
improvement. In some people with diabetes who are experiencing
visual impairment, ranibizumab can offer rapid and sustained vision
gains compared to laser alone. The visual improvements of at least
two additional lines on an eye chart could make an extraordinary
difference to the person's quality of life and independence.
DMO affects 5-10% of people with diabetes, and in many it will
cause visual impairment. Visual loss due to DMO occurs in around
50,000 people in the UK. Diabetes is a condition in which blood
glucose levels are above normal and is known to cause serious health
complications, including heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney
failure, and lower-extremity amputations.
Simon O'Neill, Director of Care, Information and Advocacy at
Diabetes UK commented on the importance of good eye health for those
with diabetes: "DMO is one of many serious and common complications
of diabetes, therefore it is important that people with diabetes
undergo annual eye tests, including a retinal photograph, and have a
greater awareness of their eye health, so that they can immediately
respond to any changes in their vision."
If DMO is left untreated, there is a 25-30% risk of developing
clinically significant macular oedema, leading to vision loss.
Moderate visual loss will occur in approximately 24% of untreated
eyes where clinically significant macular oedema has developed.
Furthermore, even with current treatment, 12% of eyes develop
moderate visual loss after 3 years.
Mr. Nicholas Beare, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Royal Liverpool
University Hospital, who led clinical research investigating the use
of ranibizumab for treating DMO, explains what this new option means
for the future of treating this condition: "Ranibizumab has the
potential to transform treatment for people with diabetic macular
oedema in the UK. For the last 25 years, laser therapy has been the
standard treatment for DMO but it is not generally associated with
visual improvement, whereas ranibizumab has been shown to produce a
rapid and sustained improvement in vision."
The safety profile of ranibizumab in DMO is comparable to that
seen in previous studies for age-related macular degeneration (AMD),
adding further weight to its established safety profile, shown
through the robust ranibizumab clinical trial programme.