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Laser therapy preferred for diabetic retinal disease

Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness among those dealing with diabetes. Diabetic macular edema can lead to progressive diabetic retinopathy. Laser photocoagulation is still the preferred method of treatment despite successful use of corticosteroid injections. Researchers were led by specialists at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute in testing the use of a corticosteroid injection of triamcinolone into the eye. The treatment was successful in slowing the progression of diabetic retinopathy but safety concerns warranted a cautionary statement from the researchers. Researchers caution that the use of such steroids in the eye may increase the risk of glaucoma and cataracts which outweighs any benefits the injections deliver to the patient. The study is published in the December 2009 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.Researchers compared one of two treatments on eyes from 693 men and women suffering from diabetic retinopathy. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either the laser treatment or the steroid injection for diabetic macular edema. The results showed that while the steroid shot did reduce the risk of progression of diabetic retinopathy, it did not slow the progression of diabetic macular edema. It was also shown the corticosteroids interfere with the creation of new blood vessels and they are also associated with other eye diseases. The consensus was that the laser treatments were a superior method of treating diabetic macular edema. Andrea Schumann Staff Writer

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