New app could reduce risk of diabetic blindness

Diabetic eye disease
Copyright: iStock/Ababsolutum

Retina Risk allows those who suffer from diabetes to assess their own risk of diabetic eye disease.

Retina Risk, which is free for both android and iOS users, is the first app of its kind. The app offers a tracking function which allows patients to monitor their risk of diabetic eye disease as well as their eye deterioration. Retina Risk also offers advice on how patients can lower their risk of diabetic eye disease by altering their diet and exercise routine.

What is diabetic eye disease?

As the leading cause of blindness in people aged between 20 and 74 years, diabetic eye disease can still be treated if caught early. However, it often doesn’t show any symptoms in its initial stages, until serious damage is caused.

According to the World Health Organisation, around 8.5% of those over the age of 18 develop diabetes. This poses huge concerns for the vision of later generations as two thirds of diabetics develop diabetic eye disease.

Diabetic eye disease begins to present itself as non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR). NPDR is caused by prolonged periods of high blood sugar. NPDR presents itself as small balloon-like formations within damaged retinal capillaries. These formations present themselves as red spots on the back of the eye.

The next step in the deterioration is the swelling of the macular, the centre of the retina. This is cause by leakage of retinal fluid which stops the macular from functioning properly.

Following the swelling of the macular is the pre-proliferative retinopathy stage. This stage is what begins to deteriorate the patient’s vision. Those effected will suffer from further haemorrhaging. Pre-proliferative retinopathy also causes formation of twig-like outpouchings.

The final stage of diabetic eye disease is proliferative retinopathy, cause by lack of oxygen to the eye due to the closure of capillaries. In response to the inadequate oxygen supply, the retina grows abnormal blood vessels. These blood vessels grow into the vitreous gel in the centre of the eye. This causes bleeding and the formation of scar tissue. Such scar tissue can cause the retina to wrinkle or detach completely.

How can Retina Risk help combat diabetic eye disease?

The Iceland based software house which create Retina Risk has over 30 years of experience in researching diabetic eye disease and developing treatment plans for those suffering from diabetes.

The Retina Risk app is tailor made to the patient. The user provides their HbA1c levels, blood pressure, diabetes type, the duration of their disease and their gender. After the information is entered, Retina Risk immediately assessed the percentage in which the user’s sight will deteriorate in the next year.

This analysis allows the user to monitor if their conditions progress and relay that information to a medical practitioner in order to get the correct treatment for their condition.

Download available.

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