New Discoveries of Diabetic Retinopathy

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Caused by diabetes complications, diabetic retinopathy is one of the most serious sight-threatening eye diseases. On one hand, this condition is usually reported with severe vision loss and even blindness. Patients with a long history of diabetes are especially at a high risk. On the other hand, diabetic retinopathy can be treated through different means, not to say early prevention. Today, three effective treatments are laser surgery, injection of triamcinolone into the eye and vitrectomy. While laser surgery requires extra caution, triamcinolone injection is more prudent. These treatments have received long-term clinical practice and well-proven. In this article, some researches on new treatment and related findings are introduced.

The number of diabetes-related eye disease cases grows quickly

Published in the December issue of Archives of Ophthalmology in 2008, a study by US Centers for Disease Control and other researchers predicted that the number of diabetic retinopathy patients who are in their 40s and older would reach 16 million by 2050. This is a triple of the current figure. The study also estimated that vision-threatening diabetic eye disease cases will triple to 3.4 million at the same time. Without proper prevention and treatment, diabetes-related eye diseases will go further to spread.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is in the decline

A 25-year study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin pointed out in 2008 that patients with type 1 diabetes may develop certain forms of diabetic retinopathy. Since the study had spanned such a long period, it was possible to make a comparison between patients in different times. The study found that patients in recent times were less likely to get proliferative diabetic retinopathy. The probable reason was indicated to be the better management and control of blood sugar and blood pressure by modern people. Other risky factors of diabetic retinopathy include higher body mass and male gender.

Avastin injection helps slow down retinopathy progression

According to some researchers in Saudi Arabia, cataract surgery can also help in slowing down the progression of diabetic retinopathy. These researchers injected bevacizumab into some patients’ eyes who received cataract surgery. They discovered that there was a considerably low rate of diabetic retinopathy progression among the patients who had received bevacizumab injection at the end of cataract surgery. Commercially known as Avastin, bevacizumab is an anti-cancer drug used on an off-label basis to treat advanced age-related macular degeneration by preventing the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina.

Activating Robo4 protein can be a treatment for retinopathy

Experiments on mice carried out by researchers in University of Utah School of Medicine found that active protein named Robo4 could prevent or even reverse abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina. Destabilized or abnormally growing blood vessels may cause eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. This result suggested a new way to treat these eye diseases by activating the Robo4 protein.