FDA Approves New Eye Drug for Diabetic Muscular Edema

The FDA has approved a new medication for the treatment of DME, Diabetic Muscular Edema, a visual disorder which is the damaging of the retina, eventually leading to blindness. This breakthrough medicine improves the vision of the patient by 2 lines on an eye chart with prescribed injections.

Diabetic Muscular Edema is caused by the change of microscopic blood channels within the retina. More specifically, high blood sugar of the diabetic patient leads to the death of pericytes, contractile cells wrapped around capillaries in the eye and all over the body.

The death of the pericytes leads to microaneurysms that form in the capillaries in the eye. The retina responds by either increasing the amount of blood to the eye, resulting in swelling of the eye, or by forming new vessels that permeate the Vitrious Humour in the center of the eye.

The disorder occurs in up to 80% of adults who have had diabetes for ten years or more. However, this is only due to the lack of awareness or regular eye check for the symptoms . Although symptoms are limited, the first stage involving none at all, some patients even have 20/20 vision.

The second stage leaves hemorrhages, bleeds, in the eye, blurring vision and leaving dark spots in the eyes for extended periods, ranging from hours to weeks.

The new medication, called Eyelea, is given in an intravitreal injection of about 2mg every 8 weeks after 5 initial monthly injections. Injection into the eye is what patients exchange for clearer vision.

There are some easy ways to decrease the likelihood of the disorder in the first place, however. The first is to keep blood sugar under control, the main reason for the disorder being the death of pericytes due to hyperglycemia.

Another way is to keep blood pressure at a healthy level, because high blood pressure can lead to damage of blood vessels in the eye. Finally, the effects of smoking on blood vessels make regular smokers more likely to have this disorder.

The safest thing to do if you think you are at risk is see your doctor and get checked out, but now that Eyelea has been approved, even people with the disorder will be able to get treatment and eventually get their vision back.

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