There has been an explosion of new treatments in ophthalmology during the last decade, and there is an increasing use of epidemiologic methods to evaluate these new therapies. In the last year, these careful research efforts have once again proved their value. Five ongoing randomized clinical trials have provided ophthalmology with new findings that will improve the care of large numbers of patients. The major advances have been in the use of laser therapy for diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and branch vein occlusion, and in the better understanding of the effects of surgery for nearsightedness.
The most important laser treatment discovery of the past year has been the demonstration of an effective treatment for diabetic macular edema. This condition affects more than 400 000 diabetic patients in the United States and, like proliferative diabetic retinopathy, is a major cause of visual loss. Now, the multicenter Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy