Corneal nerve fiber loss may predict diabetic neuropathy

From Clinical Endocrinology News, 23 December 2013:

MELBOURNE – Corneal nerve fiber length, measured using corneal confocal microscopy, is significantly reduced in individuals with type 1 diabetes who go on to develop diabetic neuropathy at 3 years, according to data from the longitudinal LANDMark study.

Researchers found that corneal nerve fibre length was significantly lower at baseline in individuals who developed neuropathy than in those who did not over the 3-year follow up (13.3 vs. 17.4 mm/mm2, respectively; P = 0.036).

Corneal nerve fiber length, which is a measure of amount of nerve tissue per unit area in the cornea, may be an useful, noninvasive adjunct to diabetic neuropathy screening, Nicola Pritchard, a researcher for the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, suggested in her presentation of the results at the World Diabetes Congress.

“In animal models, we know that the dropout of nerves in the cornea actually does precede the dropout of nerves in the foot,” Ms. Pritchard said in an interview.

“Our hope is that this technique will be useful to pick up very, very early signs of neuropathy, way before people are getting symptoms and before things develop to a stage where there’s damage,” she said. Read more.

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