Curvature of eye blood vessels could help identify diabetic retinopathy risk

By Editor
12th February 2021
Eyecare, Type 2 diabetes

The shape of blood vessels in the eyes of those with type 2 diabetes could help identify who might be at risk of developing  of diabetic retinopathy, new research has shown.

The Edinburgh Type 2 Diabetes Study, funded by Diabetes UK, involved looking at the eyes of more than 1,000 people with type 2 diabetes to see if they could find a link with the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.

At the beginning of the trial, the researchers took photographs of their retinas and measured how curvy and branched the blood vessels in their eyes were.

The participants were then followed for 10 years to see who had developed retinopathy. Dr Bedenis Forster, who led the work, found that the increased curvature in the retinal veins was linked to a higher risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Higher risk was also found to be linked to reduced amount of branching of the blood vessels.

Dr Forser said: “This work from the Edinburgh Type 2 Diabetes Study indicates that there may be a relationship between very small changes in the blood vessels of the eye and the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy.

“This could hopefully allow us to identify those who are more likely to develop retinopathy and allow for earlier treatment. Future research needs to focus on understanding if this relationship exists in other groups of people with type 2 diabetes and determine how best to utilise different software programmes that can measure these vessel changes.”

Anna Morris, Diabetes UK’s Assistant Director of Research, said: “This new research is a promising step towards helping to protect people living with diabetes from loss of vision and highlights the need for further research in this area. Diabetes is serious, but early identification of those who might be more likely to develop complications like diabetic retinopathy, means we can take extra measures to protect their sight.

“Improving the quality of care for people living with all types of diabetes is a key component of our five-year strategy, and projects like Dr Bedenis Forster’s help make sure that people are offered the right treatments for them, at the right time. We look forward to seeing how this new knowledge might make a difference in the future.”

The study has been published in Diabetologia

Photo by Mark Arron Smith from Pexels

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