February 26, 2020
An important EU-funded project has been launched to explore the biological pathways that may link the alterations observed in the retina with those present in the brain in people with type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is known to be an independent risk factor for developing cognitive impairment and dementia, with studies showing that people living with the condition have a two-fold higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease when compared to the general population. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that leads to the progressive loss of brain cells, which causes cognitive decline and, eventually, dementia. People with cognitive impairment are more prone to have impaired diabetes self-management, poor glycaemic control and an increased incidence of diabetes-related complications, which presents significant challenges both for individuals and healthcare systems on how best to manage diabetes care.
The four-year RECOGNISED project will study the biological mechanisms that cause structural and functional alterations in the retina in people with type 2 diabetes, to determine whether these same pathways play a role in the events observed in the brain during the development of cognitive impairment and dementia. Importantly, RECOGNISED will reveal whether evaluating the retina, easily accessible with current non-invasive technologies, could help in identifying earlier cognitive impairment in people with type 2 diabetes, so that appropriate support can be given.