Youngsters with diabetes more at risk of eye disease

Chennai: Young adults with Type 2 diabetes may be at an increased risk of developing an eye disease, according to researchers.

Diabetic retinopathy — the most common form of eye disease — occurs when changes in blood glucose levels cause changes in retinal blood vessels.

It is one of the late complications of diabetes and usually affects up to 80 per cent of people who have had diabetes for 20 years or more.

However, the study showed that the earlier the onset of Type 2 diabetes in an individual, the faster and greater will be the vision problem.

The increased prevalence of diabetic retinopathy associated with early-onset diabetes was not simply a consequence of the longer duration of disease, the researchers said.

“We speculated that something specific to the diabetic milieu in younger patients might drive them and make them more prone to develop diabetic retinopathy,” said lead author Muthuswamy Balasubramanyam from the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF).

Further, elevated levels of certain biomarkers such as monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1) and cathepsin-D, in diabetic patients raised the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, the researchers said, in the paper detailed in the Journal of Diabetes and its Complications.

“It appears that higher levels of MCP-1 and cathepsin-D in young Type 2 diabetes patients represent an accelerated ageing phenotype — a driving force for faster development of diabetic retinopathy,” Balasubramanyam noted.

Targeting the pathways related to these biomarkers could be a future strategy for preventing the heightened risk of developing diabetic retinopathy in young patients.