New research call to reduce risk of diabetic retinopathy

29 November 22

written by:

Eva Astreinidou

(more articles)

We are delighted to be partnering up with Diabetes UK, the Macular Society and Moorfields Eye Charity, to co-fund new research to reduce the risk of sight loss in people living with diabetes.

Through the power of partnership, we hope this critical research will improve our understanding of who is at highest risk of eye damage and provide better, more tailored treatment to prevent it.

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of eye problems in the UK, with over 1,700 people living with diabetes facing serious difficulties with their sight every year. To address this, our Diabetes Research Steering Groups have brought together researchers and people living with diabetes, to unearth the most urgent questions in sight loss and diabetes research.

Looking to the future

High blood sugar levels over a long time can lead to a complication called diabetic retinopathy, where blood vessels in the eye are damaged. Regular eye screenings can catch the first signs of problems, but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a backlog in screening and treatment, so more and more people are experiencing issues with their sight.

This is why we’ve partnered with Diabetes UK, the Macular Society and Moorfields Eye Charity. And together we’re investing in brand new research that we hope will transform how we find and care for diabetic retinopathy.

Right now we’re asking scientists to apply for our funding, with cutting-edge ideas to help us improve our ability to detect and treat diabetic retinopathy before it gets worse, to prevent avoidable sight loss for people living with diabetes.

Alison Blackburn lives with type 1 diabetes and sight loss and helped to shape this funding call. She said:

“After having diabetes for 63 years and being registered blind for 27 years, I have personal experience of how sight loss can impact various parts of life. The saying that prevention is better than treatment is particularly apt when it comes to sight loss and should be of upmost importance. Identifying those that are likely to experience sight loss could bring numbers down, limiting the many impacts that sight loss has on a very stretched national health service. A sick eye is often a sign of a sick body and preventing sight loss can help to prevent further complications, improve the ability of people to manage their diabetes, prevent stress, and improve mental health.”

Madina Kara, our Director of Research and Innovation, told us:

“We are delighted to launch new grant funding with Diabetes UK, Moorfields Eye Charity and the Macular Society. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of sight loss in working-age UK adults – and rates are expected to rise. Joining forces and pooling our efforts to better understand the link between sight loss and diabetes is incredibly important and could have a real long-term impact on reducing the risk of sight loss.”

Anna Morris, Assistant Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with so many partners on this new highlight notice. Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable sight loss in the UK, and this exciting collaboration will help researchers to make important strides in lowering the risk of people living with diabetes experiencing this devastating complication.”

Geraldine Hoad, Research Manager at the Macular Society, said: "Diabetic macular oedema (DMO) is a devastating condition and the most common form of sight loss in people with diabetes. Event with regular screening, thousands of people develop the condition, which makes it difficult to do simple things so many of us take for granted, such as reading, watching TV or even recognising the faces of their closes friends and family. 

"We're delighted to be working with Diabetes UK, Fight for Sight and Moorfields to fund more research so better treatments, or a cure, can be found to prevent anyone with diabetes from facing the devastation of sight loss."

Ailish Murray, Director of Grants and Research at Moorfields Eye Charity, said: “Accelerating our understanding, advanced detection and treatments to help reduce the risk of sight loss in people living with diabetes is of critical importance. We’re proud to be part of this important partnership which will fund research with the potential to change lives.”

If you’re a researcher, find out more about the call and how to apply by 1 June 2023.