Researchers recently discovered that the common asthma medication Singulair (montelukast) can help stop the progression of diabetic retinopathy. Retinopathy is a common side effect of diabetes. Long-term inflammation can damage the blood vessels behind the eye, which can lead to vision problems over time.
In the study, the use of Singulair in mice was able to disrupt inflammation, reducing small blood vessel and nerve damage. These findings point the way toward treating early-stage diabetic retinopathy rather than waiting until damage has been done.
While being effective at reducing inflammation, the medication does not completely stop inflammation, which is a natural immune response.
In the study, Singulair was effective in both prevention and treating mice that already had retinopathy. Study author Rose Gubitosi-Klug, M.D., Ph.D. said: “… there is promise that a safe treatment that effectively stabilizes airways in asthma may also preserve small blood vessels and nerve cells in diabetes.”
The study was performed by researchers from University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Ohio, and was published in Diabetes.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss in people 20 to 65 throughout the world. As many as half of people with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy that is undiagnosed.
Tips to avoid diabetic retinopathy
Here are some tips to avoid and treat diabetic retinopathy (DR).
- Make sure to get regular dilated eye exam each year. An eye test can alert doctors to diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, and more. Discovering DR early on can help prevent blindness from occurring.
- Take care of your body and manage your diabetes. Follow your doctor’s orders for managing your diabetes and eat a healthy diet. Mange your glucose levels, blood pressure, kidneys and cholesterol.
- Possible treatments of DR include certain drugs, laser treatments (laser photocoagulation) to seal off leaky blood vessels in the eye, or in very serious cases, a vitrectomy to restore vision.
People with all types of diabetes – Type 1, Type 2, and gestational – can be at risk for diabetic retinopathy. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop it. Stay on top of your health to prevent any possible deterioration of sight.