Diabetes-related vision loss most often is blamed on blood vessel damage in and around the retina, but new research indicates that much of that vision loss may result from nerve cell injury that occurs long before any blood vessels are damaged.
The finding — from scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis — may lead to new approaches to treating diabetes-related vision loss, called diabetic retinopathy, since many current treatments are aimed at damaged blood vessels.
“Many of my colleagues believe if you catch diabetic retinopathy early enough, it can be controlled with drugs that combat damage to blood vessels,” said first author and ophthalmologist Rithwick Rajagopal, MD, PhD. “But those drugs have side effects, and the drugs are very expensive. In addition, our findings suggest there is an underlying, progressive neurodegeneration not being addressed by those therapies.”
The study is published in the April issue of the journal Diabetes.
The featured article was originally published at Washington University’s The Source: Nerve injury appears to be root of diabetes-related vision loss