Scanning the lens of the eye could predict type 2 diabetes and prediabetes

New research presented at this year’s annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona, Spain shows that specialist analysis of the lens in the eye can predict patients with type 2 diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).

This early pilot study is by Dr Mitra Tavakoli, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK. Her study showed that measuring the level of autofluorescence in the lens of the eye can predict who will develop type 2 diabetes in future, and prediabetes, caused by impaired glucose tolerance. Prediabetes often leads to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

Other studies have shown that there can be a lag of up to ten years between the onset of type 2 diabetes and diagnosis, so earlier detection and timely intervention could help prevent complications.

The study used a newly developed biomicroscope which can detect advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) in the eye via a simple scan. The increased level of AGEs in the body contributes to development of many diseases, including complications of diabetes such as retinopathy (eye nerve damage) and neuropathy (general nerve damage).

The new biomicroscope focuses a beam of blue light onto the lens non-invasively, and measures the autoflouresence in the reflected green light, which provides a measure of the level of AGEs.

In this pilot study, 20 people with type 2 diabetes, 20 people with prediabetes and 20 healthy age-matched control subjects underwent comprehensive medical and neurological assessments including measurement of lens autofluorescence by using the biomicroscope.

The study found a significant increase in AGE levels in the eyes of people with type 2 diabetes. It also showed an increase levels in people with prediabetes, meaning this could be a robust way to measure those who may go on to develop diabetes in future.

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