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Laser Therapy as Good as Drugs for Diabetic Eye Problems

Had fewer side effects than corticosteroids, study finds

TUESDAY, Aug. 5, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Traditional laser therapy is more effective than the recent trend of using steroid injections to treat diabetics with swelling in their eyes, a new study finds.

The multi-center trial, published in the online edition of Ophthalmology, also noted that laser therapy has far few side effects than corticosteroids in trying to preserve eyesight in diabetic patients with diabetic macular edema (DME). The condition occurs when the center of the eye's retina, or macula, swells, possibly leading to blindness.

"Many of the investigators, including myself, were surprised by the results," local principal investigator David Brown, ophthalmologist and retina specialist with The Methodist Hospital System in Houston, said in a news release issued by the university. "We're continually researching new treatments, but sometimes the tried-and-true methods are still the best course. These findings substantiate the importance of laser treatment in the management of diabetic macular edema."

Almost half of the 18 million Americans with diabetes have vision problems.

The popularity of treating DME with corticosteroid injections came after early reports of success several years ago. This study is the first to compare the long-term benefits of both treatments and evaluate their potential side effects.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about diabetic eye problems.

SOURCE: Methodist Hospital, Houston, news release, July 31, 2008
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