Diabetic patients with vision impairment could regain their vision and confidence to drive after 12 months of Lucentis (ranibizumab) treatment, according to a new study.
Lucentis can be useful for people with diabetes who are losing their sight from diabetic macular edema (DME). The injectable drug can be administered monthly or three times a month – it helps prevent new blood vessels growing and allows the eye to heal itself.
In this new study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, researchers at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, analysed data from three clinical trials conducted between 2011 and 2015.
In two trials, patients with (DME) randomly received monthly placebo injections, 0.3 milligram injections of ranibizumab or 0.5 mgs of ranibizumab. In the third trial, patients either received laser treatment, 0.5 mg of ranibizumab or both laser and injection treatment.
Roughly 70 per cent of participants in the first two trials were driving before the study bega, while this number was 50 per cent in the third trial.
In the first two trials, 14 per cent more of participants treated with 0.5 mg of ranibizumab were driving after one year compared to the control group. This figure was seven per cent more for those in the 0.3 mg group.
In the third trial, four per cent more patients who received laser and ranibizumab treatment were driving after one year compared to the placebo group, while one per cent more patients on ranibizumab were driving.
Eye tests showed that more patients in the ranibizumab group had driving-eligible visual acuity of 20/40 or better in their better-seeing eyes compared to the laser or placebo groups.
Lead author Dr. Neil M. Bressler said: “This paper showed that the answers patients provided regarding driving because of their vision function were consistent with the visual acuity results.”
However, Lucentis can be quite expensive. One injection costs around £1,000 a shot, and as several treatments can be required, this can be hard to afford. The National Eye Institute reports that the drugs Avastin and Eylea offer similar benefits for DME patients, but neither drug was tested in this study.
Earlier this month, a trial reported that people with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) could have their sight improved through injections of Lucentis.

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