Can Eye Health be Used to Determine the Extent of Diabetic Peripheral Nephropathy?

June 27, 2011

An experimental, non-invasive eye screening technique that can help identify early signs of diabetic nerve damage in the rest of the body was the subject of the Glenn A. Fry Lecture Award given recently by Dr. Nathan Efron of Queensland University of Technology, Australia.

As the recipient of the award, Dr. Efron discussed his work developing the technique he described as “rapid, painless, non-invasive, sensitive, reiterative, cost-effective, and clinically accessible.”¬† It is based on assessing corneal nerve structure and function using corneal confocal microscopy and non-contact corneal esthesiometry, and retinal nerve structure and function using optical coherence tomography and perimetry. ¬†Using these tools, it has been shown that morphological damage to the nerves in the cornea is associated with the nerve damage in the extremities that can result from poorly controlled diabetes (called diabetic peripheral nephropathy).

The testing could be done as part of a routine eye check. While the techniques still need further validation, they pave the way for a role for the optometrist in the management of diabetes.

For a press release about the lecture, click here.

For an abstract of a paper written by Dr. Efron on the topic, click here.

Risa Schulman, PhD
Expert, Healthy Food and Dietary Supplement Science, Marketing and Regulatory




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