Diabetic retinopathy is a leading complication of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes that causes vision problems. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the small blood vessels at the back of the eye, in the retina. The weakened blood vessels leak and cause swelling. Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive disease, with the most advanced form, macular edema, causing blindness. Fortunately, a new medication in clinical trials appears promising as a treatment for some people with diabetic retinopathy.
Participants with diabetic retinopathy self-administered mecamylamine eye drops and received regular eye exams in a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins University. Forty percent of the participants experienced improvements in vision and diabetic retinopathy. About 40% of the participants had no change, and 20% became worse, supporting the notion that multiple therapies are necessary to treat diabetic retinopathy. Researchers are hopeful that future studies will show that mecamylamine benefits those with diabetic macular edema as well.