Diabetes damages the eye quicker than we think
Monday, May 12 2014 | 00 h 00 min | News
Researchers from Indiana University have detected new early-warning signs of the loss of sight associated with diabetes.
“We had not expected to see such striking changes to the retinas at such early stages,” said Ann Elsner, lead author of the study, published in Biomedical Optics Express. “We set out to study the early signs, in volunteer research subjects whose eyes were not thought to have very advanced disease. There was damage spread widely across the retina, including changes to blood vessels that were not thought to occur until the more advanced disease states.”
These important early-warning signs were invisible to existing diagnostic techniques, due to optical imperfections of the eyes. Stephen Burns, professor and associate dean at the Indiana University School of Optometry, developed an instrument using small mirrors with tiny moveable segments to reflect light into the eye.
“It is shocking to see that there can be large areas of retina with insufficient blood circulation,” he said. “The consequence for individual patients is that some have far more advanced damage to their retinas than others with the same duration of diabetes.”
Further research will be needed to identify patients whose retinas are the most damaged, and to see whether the damage can be reversed.