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Diabetes Awareness Week Turn a Blind Eye
15 June 2015

Turn a Blind Eye

This is not an electrical storm. It’s the retina – the light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye – of a patient with advanced diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the cells of the retina. The retina needs a constant blood supply, received through a network of tiny blood vessels (the ‘lightening bolts’ in the image). Over time, high blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels to narrow, bleed or leak. If left untreated, it can cause blindness. Current therapies blocking the action of a protein called VEGF that triggers the growth of abnormal blood vessels have slowed the progression of the disease in some – but not all – cases. In a new study, researchers blocked the action of another protein (ANGPTL4) and found that it also reduced blood vessel growth, suggesting it might be used in combination with the anti-VEGF drugs to treat diabetic retinopathy.

Written by Nick Kennedy

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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