As you sit in the dark of your optician’s office while they peer intently into your eyes, have you ever wondered what they are looking for? The answer is changes to your retina, the light sensitive layer that coats the inside of your eye. People with diabetes are particularly prone to retinal damage (pictured) as the tiny capillaries (the red lines which converge on the optic nerve, right centre) are very sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels. They can weaken and leak blood causing vision problems and even blindness. Trained experts use retinal photographs to spot early warning signs like fatty deposits (yellow flecks) and swollen blood vessels (red splodges), but with millions of images to screen each year, it’s a time consuming process. A new computer programme which sorts normal retinal images from abnormal ones has been developed and may revolutionise eye screening for diabetics.
Written by Sarah McLusky
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