London: A pressure-lowering eye drop has been found to greatly reduce the risk of vision loss in people with open angle glaucoma (OAG), one of the leading causes of blindness.
The trial to assess the vision-preserving effect of prostaglandin analogue eye drop, which is already in common use for treatment of glaucoma, confirmed its efficacy.
"Our findings offer solid proof to patients and practitioners that the visual deterioration caused by glaucoma can be reduced using this treatment," said lead author David Garway-Heath from UCL (University College London) Institute of Ophthalmology.
OAG currently affects around 45 million people worldwide.
Vision loss from glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve is damaged. In most cases, increased pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure), is thought to contribute to this damage.
"Medication to lower raised eye pressure has been used for decades as the main treatment for OAG to delay progressive vision loss," Garway-Heath explained.
"But, until now, the extent to which the most frequently prescribed class of pressure-lowering drugs (prostaglandin analogues) have a protective effect on vision was not known," Garway-Heath added.
The study recruited 516 newly diagnosed, previously untreated individuals with OAG in Britain.
Half were randomly assigned to daily pressure-lowering eye drops and the other half to a matching placebo.
The risk of visual deterioration was over 50 percent lower in the group treated with daily pressure-lowering eye drops compared to those using placebo drops over 2 years.
The study was published in the journal The Lancet.