The new study, presented at the recent meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabete (EASD) in Spain, used a newly developed biomicroscope to observe advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) in the eye. High levels of AGEs can contribute to a number of diseases, including eye nerve damage and neuropathy.
The biomicroscope sends blue light to the eye lens to measure its autofluorescence and inform researchers about the levels of AGEs. Researchers tested the device in a healthy control group and 40 people diagnosed with either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Each participant underwent comprehensive medical and neurological assessments prior to the study. They then took tests with the biomicroscope to measure their lens autofluorescence.
Results showed that autofluorescence in the lens of the eye could help predict a person’s diabetes risk. The people with type 2 diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance or prediabetes appeared with significantly high AGE levels in their eyes.
“The results of this preliminary study showed the lens autofluorescence is significantly greater in patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes,” Mitra Tavakoli, lead researcher from the University of Exeter Medical School in England, said in a statement. “The level of AGE products were correlated with the levels of blood sugar.”
The findings support previous studies that suggested initial signs of diabetes may appear up to ten years before the disease starts to affect the body. Researchers of the latest study said their approach may give earlier detection, which increases the chance of preventing future complications.
“Lens autofluorescence could be a robust marker of long-term diabetes control predicting future complication risks,” Tavakoli said. “This supports the feasibility of non-invasive lens autofluorescence to screen subjects for undiagnosed type 2 diabetes and prediabetes subjects.”
Researchers said the new approach to detecting diabetes earlier may also help reduce complications in people with type 2 diabetes because of timely intervention. However, they noted larger and long-term clinical studies are required to support their initial findings.
Source: Medical Daily