Understanding and controlling blood vessel leakage in diabetic retinopathy

  • Grant holder: Dr Andrew Benest, Assistant Professor in Cancer Sciences
  • Institution: University of Nottingham
  • Grant award: £ 6,440
  • Start date: September 2020
  • End date: June 2021

Why is this research needed?

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the working age population of the UK. Some 750,000 people are believed to have “background diabetic retinopathy” which may eventually progress to total blindness.

Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels, which causes blood vessels at the back of the eye to leak, become blocked, or grow haphazardly, causing inflammation. Inflammation stops the retina from being able to detect light and colour, which progressively leads to blindness. Currently, this problem can only be treated by regular injections into the eye.

What’s more, inflamed and growing blood vessels do not work effectively. They fail to deliver enough oxygen to the rest of the eye, which drives further leakage and proliferation of blood vessels.

What is the aim of the project?

Currently, diabetic retinopathy can only be treated by regular injections into the eye. Many patients require monthly injections, and aside from being unpleasant and inconvenient, the treatment carries an accumulating risk of adverse side effects and can also become less effective over time.

One way to develop new therapies is to understand in greater detail how the diseases progress, in particular how blood vessels can grow and leak.

How will this research help to beat sight loss faster?

The focus of this research is to gain greater understanding of the ways in  which the eye blood vessels undergo such changes with a view of developing new and more effective ways of preventing this from happening.

Further information

You can find more about the causes and symptoms of diabetic retinopathy here.

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