Introduction: Diabetic macular edema (DME) is the most common cause of visual impairment due to diabetic retinopathy. The treatment of DME has recently undergone a paradigm shift. Traditionally, photocoagulation was standard treatment, but pharmacologic therapies are becoming increasingly used for this purpose. All currently available drug therapies for DME are either anti-VEGF agents or corticosteroids. Areas covered: The pathogenesis of DME involves angiogenesis, inflammation and oxidative stress. The scientific rationale to treat DME through the pharmacologic blockade of VEGF and other pro-angiogenic factors is discussed. The fluocinolone insert is approved for the treatment of DME in several European countries, but not in the US at this time. Some medications that are already approved for other retinal diseases, most prominently aflibercept and the dexamethasone delivery system, have recently obtained approval for DME in the US. Other compounds are being studied in earlier-phase clinical trials. Expert opinion: Pharmacologic treatment of DME will likely become increasingly used, especially for patients with edema involving the fovea. At this time, the two main classes of medication for treatment of DME are anti-VEGF agents and corticosteroids. As we continue to collect clinical trials data, the precise role of individual agents, and the continuing role for photocoagulation, will become more clear.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pharmacology (medical)