Cancer Drug Improves Vision Loss in Diabetics, Cataract Surgery Patients

by Tanya Thomas on Aug 5 2009 8:56 AM

Researchers have found that the cancer drug bevacizumab medication may prove useful in improving vision loss in diabetic patients, as well as in those who have undergone cataract surgery.

Use of bevacizumab (Avastin) can benefit diabetic patients with macular edema as well as people who develop cystoid macular edema after cataract surgery.

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the major threat to vision in working-age people.

In type 2 diabetes patients, retinopathy vision loss most often results from macular edema (DME), swelling and thickening of the macula in the retina's centre.

Laser treatment is usually able to reduce vision loss, but widespread, diffuse DME (DDME) is often resistant to laser and other standard treatments.

The researchers looked at 115 patients who were treated with bevacizumab (Avastin), an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medication that inhibits abnormal blood vessels.

The researchers revealed that within one month of the initial intravitreal bevacizumab (IVB) injections, improvement could be detected.

By the end of the 24 month follow-up period vision had improved in 51.8 percent of eyes, and 97.1 percent of eyes were either stable or improved.

Lead researcher Dr J. Fernando Arevalo, of the Caracas Central phthalmologic Clinic, Venezuela also reviewed the use of evacizumab in patients with post-cataract surgery cystoid acular edema (CME).

Nearly 72.2 percent of the eyes improved and 27.8 percent emained stable

Macular thickness also decreased in most eyes. Patients who received two or more injections were significantly more likely to improve.

"Large, randomized controlled clinical trials are needed to confirm IVB's efficacy and safety in treating these conditions," said Arevalo.

"The results for DMME are very promising and suggest that combining anti-VEGF treatment with laser therapy may prove useful.

"Also, once further study is completed, unresolved CME post-cataract surgery should be considered for inclusion as an indication for use of IVB," he added.

The study appears in the journal of the American Academy of phthalmology.