Regular eye exams are very important for those with diabetes to test for diabetic retinopathy, a serious diabetes complication that is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. However, new research published in Diabetes reveals a new eye exam that can predict type 2 before it even happens.
Since there can be a lag of up to 10 years between having prediabetes and being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, this new test will prove very beneficial. Patients can make the changes they need to make to mitigate the disease and prevent life-altering complications.
How the eye scan works
The eye scan is done with an innovative new biomicroscope that detects a buildup of harmful advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) in the eye. These AGEs are damaged proteins and lipids that reveal high blood sugar levels and the beginnings of diabetes complications. The microscope shines a beam of light to measure autofluorescence, which gives a measure of the amount of AGEs present.
The buildup of AGEs reflects glucose intolerance, and can lead to complications like diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy, which are common occurrences with diabetes.
Dr. Mitra Tavokoli and her team at The University of Exeter, UK studied 20 people with type 2, 20 people with prediabetes, and 20 healthy subjects. People with prediabetes and type 2 were found to have significantly higher AGE levels, which correlate with high blood sugar levels.
The team presented their research at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Barcelona this September.
Dr. Tavakoli said: “Lens autofluorescence could be a robust marker of long-term diabetes control predicting future complication risks … Although this is a pilot study, it is an exciting emerging new tool for early detection and monitoring the treatment of patients.”