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One of the complications from diabetes is blindness known as diabetic macular edema (DME). DME is characterized by swelling of the central portion of the retina (or macula) at the back of the eye. It is one of the most common causes of blindness, which occurs when fluid and protein deposits collect on or under the macula–causing it to thicken and swell.

Barbara Araneo, PhD, director of Johns Hopkins’ complications program, evaluated 126 diabetic patients (average age 62 years) with Diabetic Macular Edema in a 6-month study. Patients were randomly assigned to receive one of 3 treatments.

  1. Medication ranibizumab.
  2. Laser photocoagulation.
  3. A combination of medication and laser treatments.

Patients treated with ranibizumab experienced significantly greater improvements in clarity of vision and a 56% reduction in excess retinal thickness. On average the ranibizumab medicated patients showed improved vision from 20/80 to 20/63. Patients receiving the laser treatment alone, or in combination with medication, showed no visual clarity improvement.