Steroid Treatment Shows No Long-Term Benefit For Diabetes-Related Eye Disease

The steroid triamcinolone does not appear to offer a long-term benefit in the treatment of diabetic macular edema (swelling of the retina due to excess fluid build-up), and patients who take the drug are likely to require cataract surgery, according to a report in the same issue.

Authors writing on behalf of the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network report the three-year outcomes of a clinical trial in which 306 eyes of patients with diabetic macular edema were randomly assigned to receive either photocoagulation (laser treatments to stop fluid leakage), 1 milligram of intravitreal (administered through the eye) triamcinolone or 4 milligrams of intravitreal triamcinolone.

"Our three-year results, analyzed from a subset of the randomized subjects, are consistent with the previously published results after two years of follow-up," the authors write. "There was no long-term benefit of intravitreal triamcinolone relative to focal/grid photocoagulation [laser treatment] for patients with diabetes macular edema receiving treatment as performed in this clinical trial.

Rather, visual acuity outcomes slightly favored the laser group over either of the two triamcinolone groups. It appears that most eyes receiving this 4-milligram triamcinolone preparation will require cataract surgery, though only a few will develop glaucoma that will require surgery."

Arch Ophthalmol. 2009;127[3]:245-451.

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Source: Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network