Genetics of Diabetic Retinopathy Disease

Published by Alicia Ferguson on

Genetics of Diabetic Retinopathy Disease
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetes mellitus is a condition that can happen when your body can’t control how much sugar is in your blood. This can cause high levels of sugar in the blood. This high sugar can damage blood vessels throughout the body, including in the eyes. This can cause problems in the eyes and lead to diabetic retinopathy (DR). 


DR can cause blood vessels found in the back of the eye to break down. This can cause new blood vessels to grow where they are not supposed to. This can make it hard to see and can even cause blindness. Some signs of DR can include experiencing:


– Blurred vision or vision loss

– Difficulty seeing at night

– Seeing spots or dark strings floating in your vision

– Eye pain or pressure


However, early stages of DR may not have any noticeable symptoms. This is why it is important for people with diabetes to have regular eye exams to check for any signs of the disease. DR is the main cause of blindness in adults and it affects millions of people all over the world. 

How was the research done? 

Vanderbilt scientists are trying to find out if there are certain genes that make people more likely to get DR. The research team used BioVU resources to find individuals with and without DR. Once found, their DNA was studied for genetic differences that may be linked to the disease. The genetic differences found can be used to predict how likely someone is to get DR based on their genes. The team will then use more specific research methods to look at how different genes are turned on or off in people with DR. This means they will look at how different genes are controlled by the body’s instructions. Lastly, the team will combine evidence found to uncover DR associations across different racial groups. This could help find individuals who are at higher risk for DR and give them better care.

What is the significance of the study? 

Vanderbilt researchers are seeking to identify common genetic differences that may be associated with the disease. The hope is that this research will ultimately lead to a better understanding of the disease and improved care for patients with diabetes mellitus and diabetic retinopathy.