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Inflammation Linked to Eye Diseases

A protein linked to inflammation could predict the risks of two eye-related diseases common in people with diabetes, according to the results of two new studies.

The studies were separate, with the first addressing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), while the second looked at diabetic macular edema (DME).

Both studies showed that higher levels of high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP), a protein found in the blood that is currently tested to determine the risk of heart disease, could also be useful in determining the risk of AMD and DME.

The first study included data from the Women’s Health Study, the Physicians’ Health Study, the Women’s Antioxidant and Folic Acid Cardiovascular Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

At the study’s start, all participants had no signs of AMD, but of those in the follow-up who developed the disease, those with higher levels of hsCRP at the start of the study were 2.59 times more likely to develop AMD than those with lower levels.

“Overall, these pooled findings from five prospective cohorts add further evidence that elevated levels of hsCRP predict greater future risk of AMD,” said Debra Schaumber of Boston’s Brigham & Women’s Hospital and her study co-authors. “This information might shed light on underlying pathological mechanisms involving inflammation and could be of clinical utility in the identification of persons at high risk of AMD who may benefit from increased adherence to lifestyle recommendations, eye examination schedules, and therapeutic protocols.”

In a second study from the University of Toronto, Ontario, 1,441 young adults with type 1 diabetes were assessed for inflammation markers, including hsCRP and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1).

Those with higher levels of the two markers were found to be more at risk of macular edema, the most common eye disease diagnosed in diabetic patients and the leading cause of vision loss in working-aged people in North America.

“With further research, these findings may lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the development of clinically significant macular edema and may lead to more effective strategies for retinopathy prevention and management,” the study’s authors wrote.

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