Currently used to treat diabetic macular edema, Eylea recently gained FDA approval for treating all stages of diabetic retinopathy.
Eylea works as a "vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)" inhibitor by stopping the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye. It also reduces swelling and leakage, which are what lead to vision loss.
Clinical trials showed that Eylea reduced a patient's risk of early signs of retinopathy from progressing into "proliferative diabetic eye disease" by up to 88%.
Diabetic retinopathy often goes undetected until irreversible damage has been done and the patient has begun losing vision. It is a leading cause of blindness in adults around the world.
Diabetic retinopathy is most prevalent in diabetic patients who suffer from chronically high blood sugar levels that damage the small blood vessels in the eyes. Once retinopathy begins, diabetic macular edema from blood vessel leakage often follows.
There are other medications for treatment of diabetic retinopathy that are similar to Eylea - including Lucentis and Avastin, but only Eylea is approved for use in patients whose retinopathy has been detected at an early stage.
Diabetic patients are encouraged to discuss what treatment options are available and the best options for them with their eye physician.