Cure for Diabetes-Related blindness


Prevent diabetes blindness with Fenofibrate

Researchers find that fenofibrate can prevent diabetics from going blind, reduce their risk of kidney damage, amputations and heart attacks.

Here’s good news for diabetic patients with high cholesterol levels.

Fenofibrate, a drug that lowers high cholesterol levels, has been found to also prevent some diabetic patients from going blind, going by a trial on close to 9,800 patients in Australia, New Zealand and Finland.

In the five-year trial, the number of those who took the drug and who needed laser treatment for their eyes at least once, was 37 per cent lower than the number of those who did not take it.

Those on the drug who did not need any laser treatment either has their existing diabetes-related eye diseases under control, or had been kept from developing them.

Without the drug, which is manufactured by Solvay Pharma, they would have had to undergo up to 12 laser treatments over five years, like the other patients in the trial.

The study’s main author, Professor Anthony Keech, a cardiologist and deputy director of the University of Sydney’s National Health and Medical Research Centre, said : “It’s very exciting as no other drug has been shown to do this.”

He was in Singapore earlier this month to present the drug’s trial results to some 200 doctors here.

In the trial, half the patients took the drug daily, while the rest were given a placebo.

The trial also found other benefits : the drug helped to reduce the diabetic patients’ kidney damage – which would have worsened without treatment – and cut their risk of amputations and heart attacks.

Prof Keech said that, given these advantages, doctors should consider prescribing fenofibrate to diabetic patients currently on statins, which also lower cholesterol levels. Statins are not known to have protective effects on the eyes, kidney and limbs.

Even diabetic patients who do not suffer from high cholesterol should take the drug as well, if they can afford it, he added.

Fenofibrate costs about $40 to $60 here for a month’s supply.


Diabetes-Related Blindness

The most common of diabetes-related eye diseases is diabetic retinopathy, which hits half of all diabetic patients after 10 years. This causes abnormal blood vessels to grow in the eye, leak blood and damage the retina, which could result in blindness if not treated.

Laser is used in treatment to burn off the abnormal vlood vessels and dead parts of the retina and to prevent further damage to the eye. However, there will be loss of vision in the “lasered” areas.”

“It’s a bonus, a serendipitous effect, that the drug is able to help delay vision loss !” comment Dr Lee Chung Horn, who chaired a committee that revised the guidelines on diabetes treatment in Singapore in 2006.

But he cautioned against prescribing it to those who do not have cholesterol problems for now, saying that more evidence was needed.

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Category: Managing Diabetes