Diabetes: Eye implant could deliver cell-based treatment

Evan Walker
Evan Walker TheMediTary.Com |
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Eye implants could deliver cell-based therapies for diabetes. Azamat Mukanov/Stocksy
  • Although type 2 diabetes can potentially be reversed, there is currently no cure for type 1 diabetes.
  • Research into both focuses on the pancreatic islets, a type of cell that produces insulin, and there have been various attempts over the years to create them in the lab for implantation into the body.
  • Researchers have now developed a microscopic device containing islets cells that can be implanted into the eye in mice without the use of stitches.

About 537 million adults around the world have diabetes — a chronic condition where the body does not make enough insulin or properly use the insulin it makes.

While type 2 diabetes can be controlled — and possibly reversed — through lifestyle changes, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease for which there is currently no cure.

In a new study, researchers from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have developed a tiny device that can be implanted into the eye to treat both types of diabetes and potentially other diseases.

The findings were published in the journal Advanced Materials.

A person’s eyes are connected to the nerves and blood vessels that run throughout the rest of the body.

For this reason, an optometrist or ophthalmologist can detect signs of several diseases and Health issues when performing an eye exam, including:

  • aneurysm
  • high blood pressure
  • cardiovascular issues
  • thyroid problems
  • multiple sclerosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • vitamin A deficiency

Additionally, an eye exam can find signs of diabetes. When the body has too much sugar in the blood, it can damage the blood vessels and nerves throughout the body, including the eyes.

Types of diabetic eye diseases are:

  • diabetic retinopathy
  • diabetic macular edema
  • cataracts
  • glaucoma
  • swelling of the eye lens

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