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The children’s clinic transforming diabetic eye treatment

(L-R) Toni and Blake Thorp, PCH endocrinologist Dr Kiranjit-Joshi and Dr Antony Clark from the Lions Eye Institute

An initiative set up to screen for diabetes-related vision loss in children, undertake research and find new treatments is already making an incredible impact at the Lions Eye Institute. Known as the Perron Paediatric Retinopathy Initiative, the clinic is transforming the way diabetes-related vision loss is managed in Western Australian children.

Type 1 and 2 diabetes are a major cause of severe and irreversible vision loss in children and adolescents globally, with a peak onset in 11 to 12 year olds. It is recommended that children with type 1 diabetes are screened for diabetic retinopathy five years after they are first diagnosed, and regularly thereafter. Most children will not display any symptoms until irreversible retinal structural damage has already occurred in the form of microaneurysms and haemorrhages, which is why screening is key to tackling this major health concern.

Led by Professor Chandra Balaratnasingam and supported by Dr Antony Clark, in 2021 the Lions Eye Institute established the state’s first screening and treatment clinic for children with diabetes to combat the growing concern they were missing out on the necessary screening. Exploratory research is also underway to develop new ways to detect early retinal vascular dysfunction prior to vision loss occurring. As the natural course of retina and renal disease is intrinsically linked to diabetes, a principal aim of this research program is to identify new ways to detect renal dysfunction using ocular biomarkers.

Thanks to the Stan Perron Charitable Foundation for supporting this initiative.

Did you know?

  • Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes which can damage the tiny blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye.
  • Nearly 100 percent of children with type 1 diabetes will eventually develop diabetic retinopathy,
  • Children who develop diabetic retinopathy could face vision loss and blindness by their 20s.

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