NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Type one diabetes is one of the most common disorders in kids affecting two in every 1,000 school-aged children. And with obesity on the rise, the number of kids with Type two diabetes is increasing. Doctors say it’s possible to overlook a dangerous complication of the disease: diabetic retinopathy, damage to the blood vessels in the eye. Ivanhoe has details on what parents and patients need to know to protect and preserve vision.
Twenty-one-year-old Alexandria White wants to work as an animator someday. For now, she’s happy she can put pencil to paper and see her sketches.
“One night we were going out to eat, and I noticed little black spots in my vision,” shared Alexandria.
An Ophthalmologist discovered Alexandria had diabetic retinopathy. High blood sugar from Type one diabetes was damaging blood vessels in her eyes.
Gennady Landa, MD, Director, Retina Service, NY Eye & Ear Infirmary of Mt. Sinai, explained, “When abnormal blood vessels they grow inside the retina and sometimes they bleed because they were very fragile.”
Doctor Landa says most people think of retinopathy as a condition of middle age, not something that strikes kids.
“In younger patients, we see more aggressive forms of diabetes in the eye,” Dr. Landa continued.
There are usually no symptoms in the early stages, but as it progresses, kids can have blurred vision, dark spots, or floaters. Some guidelines suggest yearly eye doctor visits for kids over nine beginning three years after a diabetes diagnosis. In some patients, doctors may dilate the eyes, and monitor the blood vessels in the retina as often as every four months.
Alexandria had laser surgery to correct retinal detachment caused by bleeding and scar tissue. She’s very careful to control her blood sugar to protect her restored sight.
“Your whole perception of the world could be taken away,” said Alexandria.
Doctors say the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy increases the longer a person has diabetes, but again, that risk is lowered by controlling the disease. They say the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy before the age of nine is very low, which is why regular screening is not usually recommended before that age.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Kirk Manson, Videographer.
DIABETIC RETINOPATHY IN KIDS AND YOUNG ADULTS
BACKGROUND: There are approximately 425 million people in the world living with diabetes. This number is projected to grow to 629 million by the year 2045. Out of all people living with diabetes, type 1 and type 2, 80% of diabetic patients will eventually develop some stage of diabetic retinopathy. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they are to develop this disease. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that can cause vision loss and even blindness. It occurs when high blood sugar levels damage tiny blood vessels in the retina, causing them to leak or hemorrhage, ultimately distorting vision once progressed to severe levels. Diabetic macular edema (DME) is the buildup of fluid in the macula. DME is a consequence of diabetic retinopathy and is responsible for about 50% of vision loss associated with diabetic retinopathy.
DETECTION AND SYMPTOMS: The typical standard of care for diabetic patients is to receive an annual diabetic retinal exam with an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Unfortunately, only about half of patients with diabetes visit the eye specialist for these exams. To help increase compliance, new technology has been developed to bring diabetic retinal exams into primary care settings. Teleretinal imaging allows diabetic patients to receive their exam during their routine appointment. Images of the patient’s retina are obtained via retinal camera and digitally read by a remote eye specialist. There are typically no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, allowing the disease to progress until it affects vision. Once symptoms appear, vision loss may be permanent, even with treatment. Symptoms may include blurry vision, halos around lights, loss of central and color vision, and floaters.
NEW TOOLS TO FIGHT AGAINST DIABETIC BLINDNESS: A team of researchers led by the University of Missouri has employed a mouse model exhibiting diabetic retinopathy symptoms that could lead to future translational research studies. The team focused on a specific inflammasome, a protein responsible for the activation of inflammatory responses, called the NLRP3 inflammasome. Long-term hyperglycemia results in the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome causing vascular leakages in the retina and eventually leading to neovascularization, which is the formation of new blood vessels or networks in the retina. Using advanced retinal imaging techniques, the scientists tested these diabetic mice that processed NLRP3. Using a new technique called laser speckle flowgraphy, the group was able to create the “heat map” of blood flow volume and found significantly decreased levels in the NLRP3 mice. “Several new techniques and potential diagnostics are demonstrated in this study for the first time, including the laser speckle flowgraphy technique, which may prove useful in the diagnosis of human DR,” said Shyam Chaurasia, an assistant professor of ophthalmology and vision sciences research in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine.
* For More Information, Contact:
Gennady Landa, MD Ilana Nikravesh, PR
(212) 966-3901 or (212) 201-3747
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