SERA Takes Part in National Study that Confirms New Treatment for Diabetic Macular Edema
Physicians and patients in SERA’s Knoxville and Tri-Cities offices served in a landmark diabetic retinopathy treatment study whose results were released in May 2010 by the National Eye Institute.
The study found that ranibizumab (Lucentis) eye injections in combination with laser treatment results in better vision than laser treatment alone for diabetes-associated swelling of the retina.
Laser treatment alone has been the standard care for the past 25 years. But the study shows that nearly 50 percent of patients who received the new treatment experienced substantial visual improvement after one year, compared to 28 percent who received the standard laser treatment.
Fifty-two clinical sites within the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network (DRCR.net) participated in the study, supported by the National Eye Institute (NEI) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.
“It is a great honor to contribute to the ongoing progress in retinal research,” says Dr. Joseph M. Googe, Jr., a SERA ophthalmologist who works out of the group’s Knoxville location. “Above all else, participation in cutting edge research helps SERA patients. Proximity to clinical trials gives SERA patients the opportunity to take advantage of new drugs as soon as they are available, and their participation in highly monitored studies is a service that both physician and patient can feel good about,” he says.
"We are proud to provide the latest treatments and technologies to our patients," says Dr. Howard L.Cummings, one of SERA’s Tri-Cities ophthalmologists. "By participating in clinical trials such as these, both SERA patients and physicians are contributing to our better understanding of diabetic retinopathy," he says. "The best outcomes for patients arrive through the practice of evidence based medicine. This is born through research. That is why we participate in these national studies."
Googe says, “Taking part in clinical research trials keeps SERA physicians sharp, working at the forefront of the latest developments in retinal treatments. By participating in research, we have continuous communication with our colleagues around the country, providing immediacy in putting to use the latest methods for managing our patients’ diseases.”
The NEI study included a total of 854 eyes of 691 people, some of them SERA patients, who had one or both eyes treated. Participants, who were on average in their early 60s, were diagnosed with type 1 or 2 diabetes and macular edema.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss in working-age Americans. This condition damages the small blood vessels in the eye's light-sensitive retinal tissue. When these damaged blood vessels begin to leak fluid near the center of the retina, known as the macula, macular edema occurs. The macula provides detailed central vision used for activities such as reading, driving, and distinguishing faces. In macular edema the retinal tissue swells, which can lead to vision loss if left untreated.
Full study results are published in the journal Ophthalmology available atophsource.org/webfiles/images/journals/ophtha/press_release.pdf