The prevalence of Diabetes Mellitus is dramatically increasing worldwide. Consequently, there will be a substantial increase in the prevalence of chronic complications associated with diabetes. Peripheral diabetic neuropathy is the major cause of chronic disability in diabetic patients. Diabetic neuropathy is implicated in 50-75% of non-traumatic amputations.
The early diagnosis and accurate assessment of peripheral neuropathy are important to define the risk patients, decrease patient morbidity and assess the performance of new therapies. However, this diagnosis often fails or occurs only when patients became symptomatic due to the non-availability of a simple non-invasive method for early diagnosis.
There is a pressing need for a non-invasive technique, capable of accurately documenting nerve damage and being used for early diagnosis of diabetic neuropathy. The technique should be simple and not require expensive equipment, in order to ease its dissemination and to extend its reach to highest possible number of diabetic patients. This is the challenge that we will address in this project.
We will develop a non-invasive technique for early diagnosis and follow-up of diabetic neuropathy based on automatic analysis of in vivo images of corneal sub-basal nerves. The technique will be based on dedicated instrumentation meant to be coupled to a standard slit-lamp, a feature that will ease its adoption by ophthalmologists and general practitioners.
Funding: 75.000 €
Funding entity: FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia
Start: 1st of June, 2010
End: 30th of November, 2012