Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Vision Testing Technology Brings Early Detection for AMD and Diabetes

My grandfather on my mother's side had Glaucoma. I have unusually high eye pressures that have tagged me as a candidate for Glaucoma. I have annual tests to track the degeneration of the optic nerve. So far, so good, but my visits to the ophthalmologist are expensive and involve quite a few tests. Because of this, I have an interest in new technologies for early detection in visual impairments.
AMD, Age-related Macular Degeneration, according to the site, All About Vision, "occurs with degeneration of the macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for the sharp, central vision needed to read or drive. Because the macula primarily is affected in AMD, central vision loss may occur."
Research at the University of Michigan by Dr. Victor Elner, professor of ophthalmology and Howard Petty, Ph.D., a biophysicist, has brought a new vision testing computer device that can detect changes in the eye up to 10 years earlier than previously possible. The focus is on Diabetes more than AMD but both become highly more possible to detect at an earlier age. The team is looking at researching the effects of vitamins and diet on the degenerative process and the postponing of diabetes. According to an article in The Detroit Free Press, the device takes a picture of the eye:
"The device is a camera linked to computer software that provides a numerical value, or score, that suggests the beginnings or progression of a disease. It measures the activity of a protein associated with abnormal cell changes associated with both diabetes and certain eye diseases. The team hopes to develop composite pictures of images taken of the retina."
The test is quick, painless and costs $20, compared to the $120 for a standard blood-glucose test.
You can read the complete article on The Detroit Free Press at I am always excited to see the new uses and developments in technology that help identify and prevent the occurrence of disabilities. This study and technology looks to be a promising development for folks with AMD and Diabetes.

All the best to you!


Kate said...

As a high tech, insulin pumping diabetic I am all for helping others avoid ending up with a life of finger sticks and injections. At a diabetes expo six or seven years ago I had digital images of the blood vessels around my retinas taken and it was supposed to be the new way to diagnose diabetic retinopathy early, but I never came to fruition that I know of. Right now I am up for a new insulin pump, but I am waiting to see if my new health insurance is going to pay for continuous glucose monitoring (a lot less finger sticks!). Considering it is possibly the worst health insurance on the market (Cigna), I doubt it. My insulin pump is circa 2001 and it is definitely time for an update.

I have to say that the insulin pump comes in very handy when I explain internal balcophen pumps to my students and their families. I show them my insulin pump and explain that how similar the pumps are except that they will not have to worry about figuring out where to carry it!

Lon said...

Wow Kate. I hope a new pump gets provided for you. Oregon just had a huge shift in insurance for public education with the Oregon Education Benefit Board which will change our providers. At this time my opthalmologist is not included. Could be interesting.
I hope this new research in earlier detection will help develop preventative measures.