Simple eye scan can detect early signs of diabetes-related nerve damage

October 12, 2017

In recent years, Dr. Efron has conducted extensive research into ways of detecting DPN by examining the eyes. The connection was made possible through "high-tech" techniques such as corneal confocal microscopy, which permits assessment of corneal nerve structure and function on the cellular level. Using this and other advanced techniques, Dr. Efron and his fellow researchers have discovered that diabetic neuropathy is linked to degradation of the corneal nerves, reduced corneal sensitivity, thinning of the retinal nerve fibers, and peripheral visual field loss.

The researchers hope to combine these four factors into a simple eye scan that can detect diabetic nerve damage in its early stages??”even before the patient notices any symptoms. That's important, because currently DPN can only be detected using painful nerve biopsies, or though indirect assessments like sensory testing.

The goal, according to Dr. Efron, is to develop a "rapid, painless, non-invasive, sensitive, reiterative, cost-effective, and clinically accessible means of screening for early detection, diagnosis, staging severity, and monitoring progression of DPN, as well as assessing the effectiveness of possible therapeutic interventions."

Source: Optometry and Vision Science