Pioneering eye research has shown there could be a better way of predicting diabetic retinopathy, the most common form of diabetic eye disease.
Researchers say the key is looking at the location of red eye lesions which are early indicators that the sight-threatening condition might develop.
The lesions are predictive of changes in the blood flow to the retina, and the study aimed to accurately map where the lesions might grow in a bid to predict whether diabetic retinopathy might eventually occur.
The research team studied the lesion locations in a group of people with diabetes and retinopathy and compared them to those who also had diabetes but did not go onto to develop retinopathy.
Lead author, Dr Giovanni Ometto, a Wellcome Trust-funded researcher in the Crabb Lane in the Division of Optometry and Visual Science at City, University of London, said: “We hope our study – and the use of these occurrence maps – will help predict diabetic retinopathy and reduce the burden of the disease.
“As by optimising screening programmes we hope that we can identify high risk diabetics at an early stage and deliver appropriate interventions before severe symptoms appear.”
The study team added that the information contained in this pattern of development of retinopathy is unlikely to provide a full risk profile, but the basis of the information could be integrated into risk models and be used in daily clinical practice.
Diabetic retinopathy can develop in people with diabetes who have poorly controlled blood sugar levels, but obtaining and maintaining good blood glucose levels through eating a healthy diet can minimise the risk of retinopathy.
It is highly recommended everyone who has diabetes gets their eyes checked regularly to detect any changes. Annual screenings are offered to all people with diabetes who are aged 12 or over.
The findings have been published in the journal Diabetologia.

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