Diabetes, Depression and Retinopathy

Diabetes + depression = additional disease. That seems to be the multiplication of common denominators in the arena of diabetic care. Why is this so and what can you do about it?

According to EmaxHealth.com, “A new study finds that diabetics who are depressed have a thirty six percent higher chance of developing severe complications from the disease. Diabetics are already at high risk for microvascular disease that can destroy the kidneys, and also cause blindness from diabetic retinopathy.”

How acute is the concern regarding depression? EmaxHealth.com suggests, “Depression was found to increase the chances of kidney disease, blindness, heart attack and stroke risk for diabetics, even after adjusting for other factors. The chances of developing disease of the large blood vessels that can lead to heart attack and stroke was by twenty five percent higher for diabetics with depression.”

Early in this millennium nearly 5,000 participants were followed to view their responses in medical data. In some cases more than 5 years of data was collected from patients. The EmaxHealth.com report suggests, “After making adjustments for weight, smoking, age, insulin use, and other medical conditions, the study still revealed increased risk of severe complications from diabetes among depressed patients. Depression and diabetes has also been found to increase mortality.”


There has been a recognized link between diabetes and depression, but this new study could go a long way in helping to determine why that link exists and how to break it.

Meanwhile, another new study may have some bearing on how diabetics can potentially avoid retinopathy related to their disease.

StateNews.com reports, “Susanne Mohr, an associate physiology professor at MSU (Michigan State University), spent more than two years working with E. Chepchumba Yego, a former graduate student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, to find a way to treat retinopathy. The team’s research appeared in the Jan. 29 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.”

It is important to know exactly what happens to the eyes of a diabetic to result in vision loss. The StateNews.com article suggests, “cells surrounding the vascular die and leave the vascular unprotected with no support from the surrounding cells. Once the protecting cells are gone, different fluids from the brain leak into the retina, causing bruising.”

Current options for treatment are limited to shots in the eye or laser treatments. The trouble is both are uncomfortable and laser treatments are limited to 2-3 surgeries before blindness from the treatment is noted.

In Mohr’s research “the team found a way in which cell death is induced in a high glucose environment. The enzyme glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase, or GAPDH, moves from its cytosolic environment to the cell’s nucleus to create energy, where cell death occurs.”

Once they figured out how cell death took place they were able to manipulate the siah-1, “to keep any cell death from occurring and therefore reducing the effects of retinopathy,” said StateNews.com.

Mohr is noted in the same article as saying, “About 5 million people have diabetic retinopathy, according to the World Health Organization. It is estimated that 80 percent of Type 2 diabetic patients progress into some stages of diabetic retinopathy, Mohr said. Type 2 diabetes patients are growing exponentially, which causes a much larger number with the disease, she said. Retinopathy develops five to 10 years after a person is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.”

The research will be ongoing, but to date the new study has helped identify causes and provide avenues of potential reductions in the incidence of retinopathy.