Eye test ...Michigan Kellogg Eye Centre

Look deep into eyes to detect diabetes
15 Jul 2008, 1334 hrs IST, IANS

Look deep into someone’s eyes and know what is in their hearts - or whether they will eventually get diabetes!

Yes, a new screening device that pinpoints early symptoms of impending eye disease also helps doctors detect patients prone to diabetes.

The instrument, designed by scientists at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Centre, captures eye images to detect metabolic stress and tissue damage.

The non-invasive device takes five minutes to test both eyes. For diabetics, diagnosed or not, it potentially offers advantages over blood glucose testing, the “gold standard” for diabetes detection.

The device measures the intensity of cellular fluorescence in retinal tissue. A high level of such fluorescence – or flavoprotein autofluorescence (FA) – is a reliable indicator of eye disease.

Victor M. Elner and Howard R. Petty, authors of the study, then measured the FA levels of 21 individuals who had diabetes and compared the results to age-matched healthy controls.

The scientists found that FA activity was significantly higher for those with diabetes, regardless of severity, compared to those who did not have the disease.

Petty, a biophysicist and imaging expert, explained that hyperglycemia - or high blood sugar - is known to induce cell death in diabetic tissue soon after the onset of disease but before symptoms can be detected clinically.

Petty also observed that unlike glucose monitoring, elevation of FA levels reflects ongoing tissue damage.

The findings of the study have appeared in the latest issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology.