Southern Eye Center Introduces Iluvien®, New Therapy For Patients With Diabetic Macular Edema

Diabetic macular edema, a common but potentially devastating complication of diabetic retinopathy, is a major cause of vision loss in the U.S. A new intraocular steroid device, however, shows much promise in treating this condition.

The Iluvien® intravitreal implant received FDA-approval in 2014 to treat patients with diabetic macular edema. Unlike standard treatment with intraocular injections, which may need to be given as frequently as every month, Iluvien offers a long-term treatment option.

Iluvien is a medication delivery system – a miniature medical device – that is implanted inside the eye, in an office setting. It allows a continuous low-dose of steroids to treat the retina over a 36-month period. Iluvien releases fluocinolone acetonide, a type of corticosteroid that reduces swelling and inflammation in the eye, a major factor in diabetic macular edema.

People with diabetes type 1 and type 2 are both at risk for diabetic retinopathy and macular edema. This risk increases with the duration of the disease. Because the disease may cause no symptoms until it has progressed significantly, annual eye exams are vital to vision loss prevention.

Dr. Jaime Jimenez is checking the placement of the Iluvien device.

Dr. Jaime Jimenez is checking the placement of the Iluvien device.

What Causes Diabetic Macular Edema?

Diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels in the retina, causing them to weaken and swell the surrounding tissue. Eventually the blood vessels may bleed and leak fluid into the center of the retina, an area called the macula. The macula is the area of the retina that allows you to see small, sharp details.

As fluid accumulates in the macula, the tissue malfunctions and leads to vision loss. In the early stages, vision may be blurry, but without effective treatment, significant permanent visual loss may occur.

docs-akinwale - Diabetic macular edema

Abumere Akinwale, M.D., is a Hattiesburg retina surgeon at Southern Eye Center

Benefits of Iluvien

Laser therapy has been shown to improve further progression of diabetic macular edema, but it  does not work for everyone. Clinical studies show that Iluvien can improve visual acuity and decrease inflammation in the eye. In addition, implanting Iluvien for long-term treatment avoids the risks associated with frequent injections in the eye. Iluvien does not affect blood pressure or blood sugar levels in the body.

All ocular treatments involving steroids, including lluvien, require careful monitoring.

To find out if Iluvien is right for you, call Southern Eye Center now at 601-264-EYES (3937). Or click here to schedule your appointment online.