By Xiu Ying

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Retinopathy is a common complication in diabetic patients. The condition is caused by excess glucose in the blood, which damages blood vessels inside the retina. This may compromise patients’ vision and, in later stages, lead to complete blindness.

Retinopathy is a common complication in diabetic patients. It may compromise patients' vision and, in later stages, lead to complete blindness.
Retinopathy is a common complication in diabetic patients. It may compromise patients’ vision and, in later stages, lead to complete blindness. (Photo internet reproduction)

Currently, 13 million Brazilians have diabetes, according to data from the Brazilian Society of Diabetes (SBD). Out of this total, approximately 5.2 million suffer from impaired eyesight.

Treatments available today include laser photocoagulation to seal blood vessels in the eyes, intravitreal injections and even surgery–however, those alternatives are invasive.

Therefore, the researcher and ophthalmologist Jacqueline Mendonça Lopes de Faria, in collaboration with Professor Helena Santana and postgraduate students Mariana Rosales and Aline Alonso, from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), developed eyedrops, still in an experimental phase, that can be used in treatment and prevention. “This innovation is the result of more than 20 years of scientific work in the area,” she states.

During experiments, the use of the drug enabled important neuroprotective effects of the retina in diabetic animals and did not cause adverse effects. To progress, Jacqueline states that resources are required to perform safety tests in Brazil as well as abroad.

Jacqueline graduated from Unicamp, holds a subspecialization in diabetic retinopathy from Harvard University’s ophthalmology department, in Boston, USA, and worked at Unicamp’s Center of Medicine and Experimental Surgery.

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