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Moran Researchers Examine Best Hopes for Defeating Diabetic Retinopathy

With the number of people who have diabetes expected to reach 800,000 adults worldwide by 2030, ophthalmologists are rallying to find new solutions for the leading cause of blindness among working-age Americans: diabetic retinopathy.

Moran Eye Center researchers Wolfgang Baehr, PhD, and Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD, recently compiled an exhaustive review of the latest research on diabetic retinopathy in a special issue of Vision Research.

Diabetic retinopathy can cause blood vessels in the eye's retina to swell and leak fluid, leading to blurred vision as seen in diabetic macular edema. It can also prompt abnormal new blood vessels to grow onto and above the surface of the retina, leading to scarring and retinal detachment as seen in proliferative diabetic retinopathy. The new review discusses:

  • basic understanding of mechanisms at molecular, cell, and tissue levels in the eye and retina
  • genetic predisposition of diabetic retinopathy
  • effect of glucose and lipids on cell processes and diabetic models
  • role of inflammation
  • diagnostic imaging
  • new treatments on the horizon
  • clinical outcomes for therapeutic trials and how these lead to additional questions on the basic science of diabetic retinopathy

"We are excited to provide this series of timely and comprehensive reviews from leading experts and scientists, and we hope the reviews are informative for basic researchers, clinician scientists and patients affected by diabetic retinopathy," wrote Baehr and Hartnett.

The overview, said Hartnett, enhances our understanding of the mechanisms leading to diabetic vision loss and will allow researchers to "go back to the laboratory to further tease apart the causes for vision loss in diabetic retinopathy."