A new study could have “far-reaching” implications for how diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed and treated after discovering new early warning signs of this common, long-term diabetes complication.
The research, published in the journal Biomedical Optics Express, sheds more light on the development of retinopathy, which is the most common form of diabetes-related eye disease.
After setting out to examine the early indicators of diabetic retinopathy using technology not currently used in diagnosis, researchers at Indiana University (IU) found striking changes to the retinas of participants who were believed to have early stages of the 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,” Professor Ann Elsner, associate dean at the IU School of Optometry and lead author of the study, said. “We had not expected to see such striking changes to the retinas at such early stages.”

The unexpected findings were made using a novel device, which used small mirrors to reflect light into the eye to overcome optical imperfections.
Developed and built by Professor Stephen Burns, associate dean at the IU School of Optometry, the new instrument allowed the researchers to observe a magnified version of the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) in the eye in video format, which meant they were able to watch the blood cells moving through the blood vessels.
Prof Burns said: “It’s shocking to see that there can be large areas of the retina with insufficient blood circulation. The consequence for individual patients is that some have far more advanced damage to their retinas than others with the same duration of diabetes.”
The team concluded that further research may help determine which people have the most severe early stage damage to their retinas and whether the damage can be reversed.

Get our free newsletters

Stay up to date with the latest news, research and breakthroughs.

You May Also Like

Type 2 diabetes found to be a ‘significant risk factor’ among stroke victims

More evidence has been published which supports that diabetes is a “significant…

Coronavirus: UK instructed to stay at home this weekend

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that staying at home this weekend…

Top diabetes professor drafts risk assessment document for frontline COVID-19 staff

The health and wellbeing of frontline NHS staff has been prioritised among…