Study confirms theory about causes of retinal damage linked to type 2 diabetes
As new cases of type 2 diabetes continue to rise, doctors expect to see an increasing number of diabetic retinopathy cases.
Latest figures from the International Diabetes Federation estimate that in 2019, 9.3% of the population worldwide, or 463 million people, had a diabetes diagnosis. By 2030, that number is expected to rise to 10.2% (578 million). It often takes time for the diagnosis to be made: one in two people living with diabetes are not aware of having the condition.
The study involved 70 people living with type 2 diabetes with an average age of 65 without or with different degrees of advanced retinal damage.
They were compared with a control group of 20 people without diabetes.
Since it is not possible to directly measure oxygen extraction from the blood into the tissue, blood flow and oxygen saturation in the retina of the patients were measured with a contact-free technique.
Dr Garhöfer said: “Our results show that with increasing severity of the disease, less and less oxygen finds its way from the blood into the tissue. On the other hand, we found that even in people with type 2 diabetes who did not yet show any visible changes in the retina, less oxygen was already supplied to the retina. This means that the gas exchange was already compromised before the damage was clinically diagnosable.
“In order to administer the right treatment, we need to understand the development and progression of a disease. Our research has helped to improve our understanding of the pathophysiology of the eye in diabetes.”
Having confirmed that oxygen delivery to the retina is reduced in patients with diabetes, this could help to identify high-risk patients and to instruct them better in terms of therapy and compliance. Dr Garhöfer also plans to apply this technique to other complications, including neurodegenerative eye diseases.
Read the report in Diabetes
Read the DRWF diabetes information leaflet How can diabetes affect my eyes? here
I would like to make a regular donation of
I would like to make a single donation of