(10/25/12) - A simple injection may help prevent blindness in diabetics. Diabetes 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.
"I was having a lot of headaches and I thought it was the stress of tax season," says accountant John Dunn.
Though he knew he was diabetic for more than 20 years, John was surprised when a routine eye exam showed he had diabetic macular edema, or DME.
"I think I could have lost my vision," he said.
Instead, Dr. Allen Ho was able to save John's sight with Lucentis, a drug used for years to treat macular degeneration. Now the FDA has approved it specifically for DME.
"It's the first new treatment for patients with diabetes and diabetic macular edema in 25 years," Dr. Ho says.
Traditional laser treatments focus on stopping a patient's sight from getting worse, but do not restore vision.
Dr. Ho says Lucentis can. "This drug is really a miracle drug," he said.
It is injected directly into the patient's eyes. The number of injections needed varies patient to patient.
"It usually feels like a little pinch. Patients are nice and numb," Ho adds.
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.
Dr. Ho says far too many diabetics have no idea their disease can affect the eyes. He recommends diabetics have an eye exam at least once a year, whether they are having vision problems or not.
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