FRIDAY, Sept. 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Nerve damage is a common side effect type 2 diabetes and it can start in the eyes long before the disease is diagnosed, new research suggests.

In this study, the researchers used neuropathy, or damage to the nerves in the cornea, as a proxy for nerve damage throughout the body.

The study included nearly 3,500 people — 21% with type 2 diabetes, 15% with prediabetes and 64% without any disease — and the researchers looked at the corneal nerves in all three groups.

The researchers found that the number of corneal nerve injuries increased in tandem with the number of injuries glucose metabolism.

People with prediabetes had 8% more corneal nerve damage than people without diabetes. Meanwhile, diabetics had 8% more corneal nerve damage than non-diabetic patients. prediabetes and 14% higher than those who did not have any disease, the results showed.

Nerve damage also increased with increasing blood sugar and duration of diabetes. Including above HbA1c levels (average blood sugar level over several months), and blood sugar level two hours after a meal.

“We know from other studies that it usually takes three to five years to go from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes. Our results, the first of its kind, show that high blood sugar can damage corneal nerves long before type 2 diabetes develops,” said Dr Sarah Mokhtar from the Department of Internal Medicine at Maastricht University Medical Center+. in the Netherlands.

“Nerve damage in the cornea is relatively easy to measure and provides a window into nerve damage elsewhere in the body. If we could detect nerve damage at an early stage, we could delay or prevent it and the problems it causes, thus greatly improving quality of life,” Mokhtar said.

While neuropathy can cause everything from dry eyes to loss of vision in the eyes, it can also cause pain and numbness in the legs, feet and hands. Diabetes can also cause problems with muscles and organs.

The findings were presented this week at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Stockholm. Results presented at medical meetings are considered preliminary to publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

More research will be needed to prove that higher glucose levels are the cause of the harm and whether early blood sugar control can delay or prevent it, Mokhtar added in a press release from the meeting.

Additional information

The American Diabetes Association has more information neuropathy.

SOURCE: European Association for the Study of Diabetes, press release, September 21, 2022.

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