New medication to save sight from diabetes

Published: Sep. 2, 2015 at 11:52 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 2, 2015 at 12:05 PM EDT
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DALLAS (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) - Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. Partially because it is often missed until it is too late. A new treatment is helping save patients' sight.

Sixty-eight year old Charles Cavill was in danger of losing his sight, but now, for the first time in years, he can play golf again. Cavill says, "When you can't make good contact with the ball because your vision's not there, you don't play."

Like many Americans with diabetes, the tiny blood vessels in Cavill's eyes became damaged and the retinas swelled. He underwent laser surgery and cataract surgery in both eyes but he still needs injections of a steroid to control the swelling. Before Iluvien, the injections were administered monthly. But now, one injection is good for three years.

FDA-approved, Iluvien came on the market in March. It can be administered during an office visit, it's long-lasting, and doctors say it is low risk even for patients with glaucoma and cataracts.

Ophthalmologist Robert Wang, MD, says, "One of the great things about this drug, it's absolutely going to reduce the leading cause of blindness from diabetic macular edema in the United States."

For Cavill, Iluvien has improved his quality of life. He says, "I don't have to get another injection for three years. That's pretty amazing."  That means less time at the doctors and more time on the links.

Doctors say the best way to prevent blindness associated with diabetes is to keep your sugar under control and get regular eye exams.

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