Diabetic retinopathy is a serious eye problem for diabetics. This happens when high blood sugar levels damage the retina, the back part of your eye that helps you see.
For now, the only way to slow down the disease is to get your diabetes under good control. However, this does not always work and many people still suffer from visual impairments or even go blind.
As more and more people develop diabetes around the world, finding a better way to stop this vision loss is vital.
The discovery: A protein that plays a major role
Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have made a major discovery that could help save people’s sight. They found that a protein called TRPV2 is defective in diabetics.
This protein normally helps keep blood flow in the retina stable, which is crucial as the retina needs a lot of oxygen and nutrients to function properly.
When TRPV2 fails to do its job, blood flow becomes unstable, which is one of the first negative effects of diabetes on the retina.
What’s more, they found that even if you don’t have diabetes, a disruption in blood flow can lead to the same type of retinal damage.
This means that TRPV2 is a very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to diabetic retinopathy.
What’s next: Hope for new treatments
The research team is excited to see what this means for treating people with diabetic retinopathy. Professor Tim Curtis, one of the researchers, said that knowing the role of TRPV2 gives them a new target for treatment.
The idea would be to find a way to repair or replace the TRPV2 protein to keep blood flow in the retina stable and prevent further damage.
This discovery is a major step toward developing treatments that can be used early, before people with diabetes experience irreversible vision loss.
And that could be life-changing for millions of people around the world living with this disease.
While there is still work to be done, this breakthrough gives doctors and patients hope. For people with diabetes, the future could literally be a little brighter.
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The research results can be found in JCI Insight.
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