Dr. Alexander Eaton, founder and director of Retina Health Center, recently presented to the World Retina Congress in Fort Lauderdale on a groundbreaking new finding in patients with diabetic retinopathy that are treated with the Iluvien implant: not only does it help to reduce vision loss from diabetic macular edema, the new data indicates it also slows the progression of neuroretinal degeneration (NRD), which is the loss of neural tissue in the back of the eye.
Retina Health Center participated in the collaborative study with university researchers in Iowa, Texas and Austria. The researchers found that the Iluvien implant slowed progression by 75%.
“This is a significant reduction, and while we need additional studies, our study suggests that the Iluvien implant may be a very effective way to treat NRD,” said Eaton. “And our work may also explain why vision loss in individuals with diabetes does not always recover with our current treatment options. Additionally, Iluvien is long-lasting and the treatment lasts for three years after insertion into a patient’s eye.”
In the studies, many patients had received Anti-VEGF injections (Avastin, Lucentis or Eylea) or had previously been treated with high-dose steroids like Triamcinolone or Ozurdex, suggesting that they are not neuroprotective, because after the Iluvien the NRD was reduced by 75%.
“In individuals with diabetes, this loss has been found to start prior to the onset of microvascular disease, which is when we begin treatment now,” said Eaton. “One of the reasons for this is the lack of awareness that NRD is present. With this new information, we may need to rethink the way we are treating diabetes, and we may need to start earlier.”
NRD also occurs in glaucoma, at a higher rate than that seen in individuals with diabetes ranging from 150% more in early glaucoma to 400% more in severe glaucoma.
Similar neuroprotective effects have been found in models of other ocular conditions, which makes these results that much more exciting as this medication may be beneficial for other conditions as well.
About Retina Health Center
Retina Health Center and the Macular Degeneration Research Center were established in 2002 by Dr. Eaton, a long-time Southwest Florida resident, who has been practicing ophthalmology in Lee and Collier counties for more than 20 years. Dr. Eaton has served as the principal investigator for numerous studies to prevent and treat macular degeneration, and has invented various medical devices, both for patients and physicians, that today are used worldwide. For more information on the latest studies or to make an appointment, call 239-337-3337 in Fort Myers, 239-793-5200 in Naples, or visit www.retinahealthcenter.com.