In diabetic retinopathy, the back of the eye where the image of what we view is formed became damaged due to very high levels of blood sugar, new and weak blood vessels can develop. Subsequently, because they are fragile bleeding into the eye can occur. Unfortunately, this can result in the loss of vision. Finding the condition early is vital for treating it as soon as possible. Scientists in Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and the National University of Singapore have discovered a molecule, osteopontin, which indicates the presence and the severity of retinopathy.

Their work, reported on in February of 2018 in the journal Molecular Vision, included four hundred and forty-three participants. The researchers photographed the back of the participants 'eyes, capturing the same picture as doctors see when they examine their patients' eyes using an ophthalmoscope. A total of one hundred and seventy-four participants or 39 percent were diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy …

  • the average osteopontin level was higher in the participants who had diabetic retinopathy than in those without the eye issue.
  • higher levels of osteopontin were also seen in those with more severe disease.

From the above results, the researchers concluded osteopontin might be useful in diagnosing diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of blindness in adult s aged 18 through 65. It can be preceded with adherence to …

  • a healthy diet,
  • exercise, and
  • prescribed medication to keep blood sugar levels under control.

In some cases, vision can be restored with improvement in blood sugar control.

In other cases medications that inhibit vegetative endothelial growth factor (VEGF) can stop further development of retinopathy. VEGF is involved in the growth of the new blood vessels. The two most popular anti-VEGF medicines are …

  • Lucentis (ranibizumab), and
  • Avastin (bevacizumab).

Both these medications are injected into the eye.

Triamcinolone, a corticosteroid, may also be injected. As an anti-inflammatory drug, it helps to lower swelling of the macula, the central part of the retina. Laser surgery is another treatment option. Weak blood vessels can be invented from further growth and leakage can be stopped with what is called photocoagulation.

Another surgical method is known as vitrectomy. It is used to remove any scar tissue, blood, or cloudy fluid from inside the eye.

Someday a blood test for osteopontin may prove useful for finding diabetic retinopathy. At present, people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes need to be seen by an ophthalmologist shortly after being diagnosed with diabetes, and regularly as recommended afterward. Any changes in vision such as blurring or spots should be checked out by a medical practitioner as soon as possible.

Diabetic retinopathy does not usually present itself with symptoms until it is far advanced, so early and regular visits to an eye specialist and proper medical treatment are essential.