:: Health Conditions - Diabetes
is the most common and most serious eye-related complication
of diabetes. It is a progressive disease that destroys small
blood vessels in the retina, eventually causing vision problems.
In its most advanced form (known as "proliferative retinopathy")
it can cause blindness. Nearly all people with juvenile (type
1) diabetes show some symptoms of diabetic retinopathy,
usually after about 20 years of living with diabetes; approximately
20 to 30 percent of them develop the advanced form. Those
with type 2 diabetes are also at risk.
How Far Have JDRF Come?
For years, JDRF has taken a leadership role in the fight against
diabetic retinopathy by funding research leading to new (and
earlier) clinical interventions and preventive strategies,
and sponsoring workshops to bring together major private and
public institutions involved in this area. In 2000 and 2002,
the foundation took this support a step further by launching
two new JDRF Research Centers to investigate retinopathy.
Researchers are trying to understand exactly how diabetic
retinopathy occurs in order to effectively prevent, treat,
or slow it. One target is an enzyme which appears to trigger
damage done to the eye's small blood vessels. Another study
is examining whether retinopathy may result from changes in
the cells of the retina. Also, while laser and surgical treatments
have been successful in slowing and even reversing vision
loss, focus continues on new screening methods to aid early