Long eyes less likely to have diabetic retinopathy

Finally some good news for the short sighted as people with long axial lengths (that is the length of the eyeball, front to back) are less likely to suffer from diabetic eye disease.

Myopia or shortsightedness is where rays of light are focussed in front (or ‘short’) of the retina rather than on it leading to blurry vision. It is easily corrected optically but high myopia can cause many physical problems as the eye is usually larger than normal which causes the focussing short fall – the retina is too far away, if you like.

Myopia is described as pathological when you get up to the doubel digits on your prescription and is linked to an increased risk of a form of macular degeneration, glaucoma and retinal detachment. The larger sized eye means the retina is streched thin over a larger area and so is more fragile and prone to damage.

This study showed that the longer your eye the less likely you are to have all forms of diabetic retinopathy (mild, moderate, severe). It’s rather interesting as it flies in the face of almost every other condition. The authors didn’t speculate why they through this might be the case but it will undoubtedly lead to more research as an estimated 1-2 billion people have myopia and 300 million have diabetes worldwide.

Fruit eating diabetics get less retinopathy

People with diabetes who eat a lot of fruit are least likely to develop diabetic retinopathy (diabetic eye disease).

An unpublished study of nearly 1000 people in Japan with diabetes found that those people that ate about 2 pieces of fruit per day had a 40% lower risk of developing diabetic retinopathy (DR) over an 8 year period than people who ate about 1/2 a piece of fruit a day.

The study has yet to be validated and properly published and the researchers say that although eating fruit was linked to a lower risk of DR, they were not able to establish a cause and effect relationship so there may be other factors involved. Notably, all the participants were on a low fat diet so eating fruit may or may not be as effective in people with a high fat diet.

In any case if you’re diabetic, eating fruit is not only good for you in the traditional ways we know about but seems to have some effect on DR so it’s definitely worth a try.

Eye scan detects heart disease

Work is underway on developing a scanning system for the eye which will be able to detect and grade heart disease.

For many years, it has been well known that the blood vessels of the eye give an indication of the general health as they are so small and fragile that they show signs of damage much earlier than other parts of the body. Conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure and other forms of heart disease can all be seen using the high tech equipment we have at Cameron Optometry.

The new Daytona scanner just released from Optos is undergoing trials and research to see if a comprehensive and robust grading system can be set up which will help optometrists assess whether someone is at early risk of heart trouble and can be referred much earlier to a GP for treatment – potentially saving lives.

Insulin can be produced by the gut in diabetics

Novel research in Columbia University has found a new source of insulin secreting cells – intestine cells.

retinaPeople with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce enough insulin which is responsible for breaking down sugar in the bloodstream and too much sugar can cause major problems in the kidneys, heart, teeth and eyes. Until now, diabetics have had to supplement their lack of insulin with regular injections but this research indicates a possible new avenue of home grown treatment.

Using gene therapy, the researchers managed to produce insulin in the gut cells of mice. They are hopeful these cells could be grown in the human gut and even respond automatically to heightened levels of insulin.

 

50p pill could prevent diabetic retinopathy

A pill costing just 50 pence a day could prevent diabetic retinopathy, a potentially sight threatening complication of diabetes.

Scientists in in Australia have just completed a study involving 10,000 patients aged between 50 and 75. Patients taking the drug, fenofibrate, were found to reduce their risk of needing laser treatment (a normal treatment diabetic eye disease) by a third.  Fenofibrate is a lipid-modifying agent that helps to reduce complications in diabetic retinopathy.  Professor Ian Young from Queen’s University, Belfast who lead the study has urged the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to recommend using the drug in the NHS.

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