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Retinal vein occlusion may be helped by new eye drops

A study published in Nature Communications offers hope to people dealing with retinal vein occlusion.


Retinal vein occlusion is a major cause of blindness that is caused by a blockage in the major vein that drains blood from the retina. This blockage causes blood and other fluids to leak into the retina resulting in damage to vital photoreceptors.

The current treatment is to use intravitreal drugs that reduce the leakage of fluid but in a majority of cases, the treatment fails to prevent vision loss. The new eye drops that are currently being tested target an enzyme known as caspase-9, which is believed to be the trigger behind the process that damages the retina.

In the study, researchers delivered the caspase-9 inhibitor via eye drops into lab mice who had retinal vein occlusion. The retinal function of the mice was improved and the treatment reduced swelling, decreased neuronal damage in the retina and improved blood flow. The next step is a Phase I clinical trial involving people with retinal vein occlusion.

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