Possible new treatment for diabetic eye disease while you sleep!

Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University are developing a tool which aims to reduce the need for lasers or surgery in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. The idea is to design and test a retinal sleep lamp to help treat the eye problems associated with diabetes. 

Diabetes is recognised as a growing public health problem in the UK, with it estimated that five million people will be diagnosed with the disease by 2025. Of the three million people currently diagnosed with diabetes in the UK, 80% are expected to develop diabetic retinopathy, which can cause sight loss. 
A prototype of the sleep lamp, which has been developed by a company, Joe Lights Limited, is designed to illuminate the eyelids during sleep. A tiny portion of the light passes through the closed eyelid to reduce retinal hypoxia, a condition where the amount of oxygen reaching the retinal cells is reduced in the darkness. This results in damage to the small retinal vessels and can lead to diabetic retinopathy. 
Dr Xinhua Shu, from the university’s School of Health and Life Sciences, is working in partnership with the director of Joe Lights, Dr Josef Tainsh, to develop light-emitting diodes in the lamps which target the light-sensitive photoreceptor cells without disturbing a person’s sleep. 
Dr Shu said: “This project is innovative because, if the results prove positive, it will offer a cheap and easy-to-use tool in the fight against retinopathy and may help prevent the need for more invasive types of therapy such as laser treatment, injections and surgery."
Current treatment for diabetic retinal disease involves using specialised lasers to effectively ‘burn’ the retina and so stop the body’s perceived need for blood vessel growth, “explains Deven Lakhani, Consultant Optometrist from Hammond Opticians.
He continues “This is costly for the NHS and can be painful for patients. In addition it can lead to secondary problems from increased glare, loss of peripheral field of vision and in some cases even lead to further bleeding within the jelly of the eye.

So any new treatment that is easier with fewer potential side-effects and perhaps even more affordable for the NHS has to be a good thing”.
 Digital Retina


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