Right now, people are influenced by retinal vein occlusion (RVO) are usually prescribed injections of vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) into their eyes.
Experiments on mice conducted by researchers at Columbia University and the Sanford Burnham Prebys Institute of Medical Discovery in the United States suggest that eye drops may one day replace this uncomfortable and somewhat scary treatment.
RVO occurs when a vein in the retina of the eye is blocked, leading to swelling, inflammation, damage to the retina, and even vision loss, depending on the severity of the problem.
Anti-VEGF injection They have been shown to reduce swelling and improve vision. Not only does it require a thin hypodermic to be inserted into the eye to work, however, the injections are not always effective in treating RVO.
The scary prospect of an eye injection also tends to put people off treatment, which means the problem will get worse.
In laboratory tests, eye drops containing an experimental drug were found to be twice as effective in mice as a standard anti-VEGF injection when it came to reducing RVO swelling and improving blood flow in the retina. What’s more, unlike injections, the eye drops protect against vision loss by preventing the photoreceptors in the eye from decay.
The eye drops contained a compound called Pen1-XBir3, previously received to block the enzyme caspase-9. This enzyme triggers cell death, and is known to be overactive in blood vessels damaged by RVO.
“We think that the eye drops improve the health of the blood vessels in the retina, which reduces the toxic signaling that damages the neurons of the retina and causes vision loss,” say neurovascular biologist Maria Avrutsky of Columbia University.
It’s a very positive result, but obviously this needs to be tested in humans now that we know how well it works in mice. A person clinical trials proposed, and the researchers say that other treatments could be developed using the same compound.
Our eyes are one of the most sensitive and important parts of our bodies, and any damage can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life. The good news is that we’re making regular advances in the treatment of eye conditions, like the one described here—whether it’s eye drops to combat aging or growing a new retina.
“There is an opportunity to help more people with this disease which is the leading cause of blindness worldwide,” say Columbia University cell biologist Carol Troy.
“Finding the root cause of RVO is the Holy Grail, but if we can at least provide better symptom relief that doesn’t cause patients distress, that would be a good start.”
The research is published in Frontiers in Neuroscience.