In a new study, researchers found compounds from a group of plants may help treat eye diseases related to diabetes, such as diabetic retinopathy.
The finding could help develop a new treatment for this diabetic complication and benefit many people with diabetes.
The research was conducted by scientists from the University of Surrey, Kingston University and Indiana University in the U.S.
In the current study, the team focused on a group of eye diseases, in which new blood vessel cells grow abnormally in the eye.
The group of diseases includes diabetic retinopathy in patients with diabetes, retinopathy of prematurity in premature babies, and age-related macular degeneration in older people.
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the tissue at the back of the eye (retina). High blood sugar is a big risk factor.
People with this health condition may experience floaters, blurriness, dark areas of vision and difficulty perceiving colors. If left untreated, the disease can lead to blindness.
Age-related macular degeneration is one of the world’s leading causes of blindness. It affects 20 million older adults worldwide.
Retinopathy of prematurity affects around 20% of premature babies. It mainly occurs in those who are born before 32 weeks of pregnancy or weigh less than 1500g.
In the study, the team tested natural compounds homoisoflavonoids in the Hyacinthaceae plant family.
They tested how well these compounds could stop the growth of new blood vessels.
The team was able to isolate several active compounds. One synthetic derivative, in particular, could be used to develop future treatments.
They believe that their results could help develop future treatments for many degenerative eye conditions.
The findings are the first step towards therapies that might avoid these shortcomings.
Further work needs to synthesize more related compounds.
One author of the study is Professor Dulcie Mulholland, Head of Department of Chemistry at the University of Surrey.
The study is published in the Journal of Natural Products.
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