Eye implant for macular oedema recommended by NICE

Image caption,
Medicated eye implant recommended by NICE

A drug-infused eye implant which treats a type of vision loss has been approved by the medicines watchdog in England and Wales.

Final draft guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said the implant was suitable for some patients with macular oedema.

It is thought that 25,000 patients could benefit.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People said it was excellent news.

The macula is a specialised piece of the retina which has the job of dealing with colour and fine detail.

When a vein in the retina becomes blocked - retinal vein occlusion - it leads to inflammation and a build-up of fluid. This can cause macular oedema - a severe visual impairment.

The biodegradeable implant, Ozurdex, is injected into the eye every six months.

It slowly releases a drug, dexamethasone, which suppresses the inflammation and restores vision.

Professor Peter Littlejohns, clinical and public health director at NICE, said: "We are pleased to be able to recommend dexamethasone intravitreal implant for this condition.

"Retinal vein occlusion can be very debilitating and have a very profound effect on everyday life so this draft decision will be welcome news to all those affected."

Barbara McLaughlan, from the RNIB, said the announcement was "excellent news, particularly for patients with central retinal vein occlusion, as this is the only licensed treatment available".

"At RNIB we would urge PCTs not to force patients to wait for final guidance to be published on treatment with Ozurdex, but to start providing this sight-saving treatment immediately."

Ian Pearce, a consultant and representative of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, said: "The availability of a licensed, effective and now NICE-recommended treatment is a significant step forward for management of RVO patients."

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