Researchers Working To End Vision Loss in Diabetic Patients

Posted by Admin on August 30, 2013
It's often seen as a vicious cycle that steals away the vision of those with diabetes. The hallmark high glucose levels associated with the disease can lead to inflammation that creates even more free radicals, eventually leading to vision loss. In addition the body's endogenous system that is designed to handle free radicals is greatly impacted by diabetes.

Close to 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from diabetes, according to the National Diabetes Foundation. According to the National Eye Institute, nearly half of those individuals will develop diabetic retinopathy.

The agents responsible for the condition, free radicals, are normal byproducts of the body’s constant use of oxygen and also serve an important signaling function in the body. Problems arise when they become too numerous, like in the case of diabetes, and their natural tendency to bond starts causing problems for both cells and DNA. Excess free radical levels are also believed to be a major factor in a variety of diseases and aging.

The thioredoxin system typically functions for maintaining a healthy level of free radicals by neutralizing the excess but, like many systems in the body, the thioredoxin system becomes less efficient with age and diabetes hastens the process.

In the case of diabetes and the eyes, over time the overwhelmed thioredoxin system destroys blood vessels that are critical for delivering nutrition and blood. Desperate for blood flow, the eyes develop new blood vessels but these ones are leaky and fragile and often misplaced, ultimately destroying a patient’s vision.

Lead author Dr. Manuela Bartoli believes a selenium supplement could aid the thioredoxin system in maintaining its efficiency. Selenium is a byproduct that is the result of copper refining and glass production. It is also found in fish, nuts and grains. 

 

Written by Stuart Diamond

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