Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is a leading cause of vision loss in patients with diabetes, resulting in up to 24,000 cases of blindness each year in the United States. Laser therapy has been the most common treatment used to help reduce severe vision loss, but the procedure has many side effects including permanent loss of peripheral vision and swelling of the retina.
A group of researchers from across the US tested an alternative treatment using an injectable medication called ranibizumab, to see if it would be as effective as the laser therapy. They studied more than 300 patients with PDR, assigning them to either receive standard laser therapy or an injection into the eye. In total, they treated close to 400 eyes.
Outcomes, especially loss of vision, were compared at two years. Over the two year period, researchers found that patients receiving the injections of medication had fewer side effects and did somewhat better in terms of vision loss than those who received laser therapy.