The eyes have it - corneal confocal microscope helps research into diabetes...
An accidental discovery by an Australian eye expert may hold the key to better management of people with diabetes, a condition that affects 200,000 Kiwis out of a population of 4.3 million.
Nathan Efron, a professor at the Queensland Univeristy of Technology's School of Optometry, made the discovery after using a special microscope, called a corneal confocal microscope, which he thought would help in his research into how contact lenses affect the eye.
Instead, its extreme magnification allowed Effron to see fine nerves in the cornea that had never been seen before.
Effron,who has Type 2 diabetes, knew that one of the serious consequences of the disease is diabetic neuropathy - a condition that causes nerve damage and can result in ulcers and amputations. It affects half of diabetics in varying degrees.
A five year study is now under way to discover whether technology can be used to monitor nerve degeneration over time. This could lead to early testing for diabetic neuropathy that will motivate sufferers to better manage their disease.
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