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Researchers gain insight into diabetic vision problems


Diabetes is one of the major causes of vision loss and blindness in the UK. Now optometry researchers at Aston University’s new £10 million Academy of Life Sciences are to carry out a ground-breaking new study which will lead to a greater understanding of visual problems experienced by diabetics.

Their research, which is the first of its kind in the world, will measure the effects of the daily cycle of blood sugar levels on the vision of diabetic patients via detailed eye examinations. This will help scientists to gain a vital understanding of how the disease causes vision problems in diabetics and, specifically, its effects on the retinal tissue (sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) over the course of the day.

With an estimated 1.4 million diabetic sufferers in the UK the results of the research will have significant implications on the vision and the general health of a large number of people.

In order to obtain significant and reliable results, the researchers hope that a large number of diabetics will volunteer to take part in a series of six short vision assessments over a period of 12 hours. Participants may be of any age and either sex and do not need a vision problem to take part. All volunteers will receive a £50 payment and meals on the day in thanks for their involvement.

The study, which has been organised by Helena Workman - a PhD research optometrist at the university -, is to take place in the Aston Academy of Life Sciences, a new state of the art facility for academic research and private medical care. It is the only facility of its kind in Europe and includes a centre of excellence for eye research, diagnosis and surgery. The Academy will provide sophisticated equipment for the research including a camera designed to photograph the back of the eye and measure the thickness of retinal tissue. Most hospitals and clinics do not have access to this equipment, thus indicating the importance and uniqueness of the research.

Helena explains: ‘Our hope is that our research will help to provide a unique insight into diabetes as a whole and the way in which blood sugar control may affect the vision of our diabetic population in their daily lives.’

Anyone interested in volunteering for the study or requiring more information should contact Helena Workman or Dr. Sarah Hosking on 0121 204 3800 or alternatively email

Barbara Coombes | alfa
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