The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the drug Lucentis (ranibizumab) to treat all forms of diabetic retinopathy in the US.

Lucentis, a monthly injection, is now the first vascular endothelial growth factor (VEFG) inhibitor to be approved for treating all forms of diabetic retinopathy.

The drug was previously approved only for treating people with diabetic macular edema (DME), but this decision means Lucentis can be used to manage diabetic retinopathy in patients with or without DME.

“Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss among working-aged adults in the US between the ages of 20 and 74. We are very pleased that Lucentis is now FDA-approved to treat retinopathy in people with and without DME,” said Sandra Horning, Chief Medical Officer and Head Global Product Development at Genentech, the developers of Lucentis.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common form of diabetic eye disease. It develops as a result of long-term high blood sugar levels and leads to the back of the eye becoming damaged.

The most common treatment for diabetic retinopathy is laser treatment, which helps to prevent the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye.

The FDA’s updated approval was made following the results of a study which compared Lucentis to laser therapy in more than 300 people with diabetic retinopathy.

Lucentis works by preventing the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye, and the findings showed the drug significantly improved diabetic retinopathy and lessened the damage caused by the condition.

Lucentis has also been approved for wet age-related macular degeneration, macular edema after retinal vein occlusion and myopic choroidal neovascularization.