Diabetic Retinopathy Research

Diabetic retinopathy research focuses on a leading cause of vision loss in adults.

All people with diabetes are at increased risk for developing several forms of eye disease, including: cataracts (a clouding of the lens in the eye), glaucoma (an increase in pressure within the eye that leads to optic nerve damage and loss of vision) and retinopathy (damage to the retinal blood vessels). According to the National Eye Institute, diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness among American adults.

Stages of diabetic retinopathy

There are two principle stages of diabetic retinopathy:

  • Nonproliferative retinopathy: Also known as background retinopathy, this condition is the initial stage of diabetic retinopathy in which changes in the retinal blood vessels show signs of swelling, become blocked and eventually disrupt blood supply to regions of the retina.
  • Proliferative retinopathy: At this stage of the disease, the inadequate blood supply to various retinal regions stimulates the growth of new blood vessels, which are fragile and prone to leaking. These abnormal blood vessels grow on the retina and into the vitreous gel. The leakage can then lead to severe visual dysfunction and blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy drug research and other studies

Diabetic RetinopathyWEB

Our recent and ongoing diabetic retinopathy drug research focuses on:

  • Studies that test the efficacy of medications for halting or delaying diabetic retinopathy
  • A comparison of diabetic retinopathy drug therapies to laser therapies
  • Studies on the effects of intravitreal steroid injections

Other diabetic retinopathy research studies focus on genetic analysis as well as comparisons of the sensitivity and reproducibility of retinal imaging techniques for detecting and monitoring the onset and progression of retinopathy.

Diabetes and eye research

As a result of the international diabetes epidemic, the number of cases of diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, macular degeneration and other associated conditions has spiked dramatically. Our department has made diabetes care a key focus of our ongoing eye research, including engaging in joint eye research efforts with the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network (DRCR.net), a collaborative research network funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute. All Henry Ford Department of Ophthalmology retinal specialists belong to this multicenter network, which supports clinical research focusing on all diabetes-induced retinal disorders.

Advanced treatment for diabetic retinopathy

Henry Ford retinal specialists have extensive experience in diabetic retinopathy treatment, including complex cases. In addition, our team works closely with Henry Ford Medical Group physicians in other departments, providing multidisciplinary, coordinated care for those patients who need it. Our patients have access to advanced diagnostic tests and treatment and, if eligible, related clinical trials.


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