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Scientific Progress Against Diabetic Retinopathy

Posted on Oct 4th, 1999 in Information

Scientific Progress Against Diabetic Retinopathy You probably already know the very common eye condition brought about by diabetes — diabetic retinopathy which is caused by the swelling and leaking of blood vessels or the growth of abnormal new blood vessels on the surface of the retina, which could eventually leave patients blind.

Although it has no obvious symptom in the earliest stages, through time the condition can progress into a state in which the eye’s blood vessels leak and rupture easily, eventually causing blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by high blood glucose levels. Almost all type 1 diabetics exhibit symptoms of this eye disorder.

For the time scientists have been able to show in clinical trials that a therapeutic compound can be used to protect against the complications of diabetic retinopathy.

The compound ruboxistaurin has been found to slow the progression of retinopathy by inhibiting an enzyme in the body called protein kinase C beta (PKC beta). PKC is believed to contribute to the blood vessel damage that leads to the disease.

Such were the findings of a study led by Dr. Lloyd Aiello of the Joslin Diabetes Center. According to Dr. Richard Insel, Executive Vice President of Research for JDRF:

“Since retinopathy is the most common and serious eye-related complication of those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes and is the leading cause of adult blindness in Americans the outstanding research being done in this area will have a significant impact on the millions of people with diabetes.”

Also, based on a new animal study found that long-term supplementation of Vitamin C could later prevent diabetic retinopathy.

Vitamin C is one of the most common Vitamins in supplement/drug form that is widely commercially available. An antioxidant, it helps build our immune system and prevent us from common flu and colds-causing viruses, which could also be found naturally in most sour, citrus fruits.

But the question really is, do we take-in vitamin C supplements (or eat more Vitamin C-rich foods) for a long time on a regular basis? I don’t too. Sporadically only: when I somehow feel that I will catch cold soon or when its flu season. But we should really, because Vitamin C is one of those vitamins that the human body doesn’t make on its own and so must be supplied but get depleted from the body very quickly because it is also water-soluble.

Going back to the mice study of Vitamin C and diabetic retinopathy, according to lead author Amporn Jariyapongskul from Srinakharinwirot University in Bangkok:

“Vitamin supplementation suppressed leukocyte adhesion and thus endothelial dysfunction, associated with increase in iris blood flow perfusion in diabetes. The antioxidant vitamin C may be a therapeutic agent for preventing diabetic retinopathy.”

While the results are still preliminary to draw conclusions from (after all, the findings have to tested on humans first, right?), I guess it wouldn’t hurt to remind ourselves to pop some Vitamin Cs even if we aren’t diabetic.

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