Health Check: Iluvien

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) - Diabetes can rob you of a lot when it comes to quality of life. Vision loss can be devastating.

High blood sugar levels can cause what's called diabetic macular edema. Tiny blood vessels leak into the eyes -- making people feel like they seeing underwater.

But an injection is putting life back into focus.

Tim Watts can read the eye chart now, but years ago, diabetic macular edema robbed him of his eyesight.

"When we first started it was 20/200," Watts said.

Tim couldn't even make out his daughter's face.

"I have a daughter that's 15 now, and there for awhile I couldn't see very well."

Dr. Robert Vogel with Piedmont Eye Center said patients like Watts used to have to get steroid injections every 3 months to see.

"It's an ongoing issue in diabetes," Vogel said.

But in 2014, he became one of the first patients in the country to try a new treatment -- called Iluvien-- that would do away with those injections for three years. The tiny implant is injected into the eye.

"It releases drug, steroid, over about a 3 year period it dissolves and it's finished," Vogel.

“Just a few seconds and it was done (and right back to work),” Watts said.

"It made a huge, huge difference,” Vogel said. “I see him less. He has less injections. Over all it's been an incredible positive for him and other patients."

Two and half years later, Watts’ eyesight is 20/30.

"It's tremendous to see what I missed,” Watts said. “I can see everything now."

Every three years patients have to get another injection. Watts will get his again in September.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off