Beating blindness in diabetics

November 12, 2012 12:17:06 AM PST
Diabetes affects 26 million people in the U.S. and is the leading cause of new blindness in adults. Now for the first time in a long time, the FDA has approved a drug to help save diabetics' vision.

Tax accountant John Dunn has had diabetes for 20 years but he had no idea it was hurting his eyes.

"I was having a lot of headaches and I thought it was the stress of tax season," Dunn told Action News.

A routine eye exam showed he had diabetic macular edema, or DME.

"I think I could have lost my vision," Dunn said.

Instead, Doctor Allen Ho was able to save John's sight with Lucentis. A drug used for years to treat macular degeneration that was just FDA approved for DME.

"It's the first new treatment for patients with diabetes and diabetic macular edema in 25 years," Allen Ho, M.D., Wills Eye Hospital Retina Service, Director of Retina Research, Mid Atlantic Retina, Professor of Ophthalmology at Thomas Jefferson University, said.

Traditional laser treatments focused on stopping a patient's sight from getting worse but couldn't restore vision. Doctor Ho says Lucentis can.

"This drug is really a miracle drug," Dr. Ho said.

It's injected directly into the patient's eyes.

"It usually feels like a little pinch. Patients are nice and numb, and the patient will often come off it and say did you do the injection yet? They often can't feel it." Dr. Ho told Action News.

The injections have restored John's vision to almost 20/20.

Now he's grateful for the gift of sight and focused on managing his diabetes.

Doctor Ho says far too many diabetes patients have no idea that diabetes can affect the eyes. He recommends diabetics get an eye exam at least once a year, whether they are having vision problems or not.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Cathy Moss
Wills Eye Hospital
(215) 928-3000
cmoss@willseye.org


Load Comments