diabetic retinopathy

Methods of diagnosing and treating diabetic retinopathy or eye disease in the United States could be altered after findings from a new class of ultrawide field (UWF) cameras.

What are UWF cameras?

UWF cameras have recently been used in a study by researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center’s Beetham Eye Institute.

According to Paolo Silva, M.D., the UWF systems generate high-resolution images extremely quickly. These images can then be evaluated much faster and efficiently by experts compared to conventional ETDRS (Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study) photos.

In their study, Joslin researchers observed that UWF images detect diabetic retinal lesions predominantly in peripheral areas of the retina. These images are not picked up by traditional retinal photographs.

The lesions increased five-fold the risk of progressing to advanced stages of vision-threatening blindness.

“What was a big surprise is how much of a risk this added and how much of the disease was found outside of the area we’ve traditionally evaluated,” said senior author Lloyd Paul Aiello, M.D., PhD, Director of the Beetham Institute, Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.

Additional trials are underway in the United States: in one study, 350 diabetes patients are being assessed with UWF imaging over a four-year period, and if these results support the Joslin team’s findings, it could lead to changes in care for diabetes patients and how the disease progression in diabetic retinopathy is rated.