Roleystone researcher explores link between eye disease and diabetes

Roleystone researcher Jocelyn Drinkwater. Photo: Jon Hewson
Roleystone researcher Jocelyn Drinkwater. Photo: Jon Hewson

A GRANT worth more than $85,000 is helping Roleystone researcher Jocelyn Drinkwater explore the links between eye disease and diabetes.

The PhD student received the Warren Jones/UWA Postgraduate Research Scholarship as well as the Edith Hearn Bequest Grant through the Spinnaker Health Research Foundation to help her studies into eye complications in people with type 2 diabetes.

Ms Drinkwater said she was “overwhelmed and grateful” that her research team was successful in securing the grant, which would be put towards the purchase of an important piece of equipment.

“Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the leading cause of visual impairment in people of working age and affects about a quarter of people with type 2 diabetes,” she said.

“In the study, participants will have an ultrasound of their neck arteries and a thorough eye assessment using an optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA), new non-invasive technology.

“This information will show if a diseased carotid artery is related to DR, a common complication of type 2 diabetes.

“If so, managing the carotid arterial disease may protect eyesight and it will also show whether OCTA can detect DR earlier than other imaging.”

Ms Drinkwater will work alongside Associate Professor Wendy Davis and Professor Tim Davis of the Fremantle Diabetes Study, with the new OCTA to be donated to the Fremantle Hospital Eye Clinic at the end of the study.

She said she had always been interested in helping people and seeing the impact a good health professional could have.

“I think vision is a very important sense and there needs to be more attention given to eye complications in people with diabetes,” she said.

“Vision has a big impact on quality of life and if people cannot see well, it is much harder to do everyday tasks.

“This project is also a collaboration with the Lions Eye Institute and SKG Radiology, both of which have also provided funding.”

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