DEXAMETHASONE HELPS DIABETIC MACULAR EDEMA. A sustained-release implant of dexamethasone within the eye can lead to improvement in visual acuity those with Diabetic Macular Edema (DME), as reported by the Ozurdex MEAD Study Group which says effects can last for up to three years. The downside: Treated patients were more likely to develop cataracts. Limitations of the study include the fact that the trial did not include a treatment arm of the current standard of care. In addition, over two-thirds of the patients had been previously treated; it is unclear how prior treatments may have affected their response to steroids. Nonetheless, the study demonstrates that steroid therapy may be a valuable option for DME, although their efficacy ought to be compared to current DME therapeutics.

ANIMAL TRIALS SHOW PROMISE FOR TREATING EYE CANCER. New findings about the genetic roots of eye melanoma could lead to more effective treatments, according to a recent study co-authored by Kun-Liang Guan, professor of pharmacology at University of California, San Diego, Moores Cancer Center. His research also proved an existing drug, verteporfin (brand name Visudyne), could be a possible treatment. Tests on mice are promising, also noted the study authors. Uveal melanoma, a cancer that attacks parts of the eye that contain pigment cells , affects about 2,000 people in the U.S. each year. If the cancer hasn’t spread, patients usually undergo radiation treatment and have the affected eye removed but often the cancer spreads to the liver.

BLOOD PRESSURE MEDS TIED TO AMD RISK. Use of vasodilators to control blood pressure may be associated with an increased risk for early development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Ronald Klein, MD, MPH, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, and his colleagues conducted a population-based longitudinal study of residents of Beaver Dam, WI, over a 20-year period. The overall incidence of early AMD for these participants, aged 43 to 86, came to 8.4%, or 592 cases in 7012 person-visits, compared with 1.4% (128 cases/9133 visits) for late AMD. Participants taking vasodilators had a 72% higher risk of developing early AMD (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.25 – 2.38) after adjustments for age and sex. The excess risk was even higher, at 81%, among individuals using oral nitroglycerin (95% CI, 1.14 – 2.90). In addition, the researchers calculated that persons taking oral beta blockers were 71% more likely to develop exudative AMD (95% CI, 1.04 – 2.82), though they concluded more research still needs to be conducted.

OCULAR DISEASE TREATMENT SHOWS PROMISE. Kala Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a leading developer of innovative ophthalmic products based on the company’s proprietary Mucus Penetrating Particle (MPP) platform technology, reported successful dosing during the initiation of its Phase 3 study for ocular disease treatment in the loteprednol etabonate MPP (“LE-MPP”) program. This marks one of several upcoming trials for Kala’s proprietary MPP platform technology. The study will evaluate the degree of inflammation and pain following use of LE-MPP in patients who have undergone cataract surgery. In this randomized, double-masked trial, Kala hopes to enroll 375 patients who will be dosed for two weeks after surgery.

EXERCISE AND RETINAL DISEASE. According to research led by Machelle Pardue, PhD, Emory University, exercise may help with the progression of retinal diseases. In the study, “Aerobic Exercise Protects Retinal Function and Structure from Light-Induced Retinal Degeneration,” scientists examined the effects of moderate aerobic workouts on damaged nerve cells in the retina. To test the effect, they exposed mice to toxic bright light after the mice had run on a treadmill for a set period of time. Comparing their analysis both before and after this exercise, they found it preserved the photoreceptors and function of retinal cells.


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