Diabetes is the worlds fastest growing chronic disease. The American Diabetes Association estimates 30 to 35 million people in the US have diabetes, with approximately 23 million people diagnosed with the disease. Another 85 million are pre-diabetic, defined as having blood sugar above normal but not yet at diabetic levels. The World Health Organization estimates that 9% of the global population, over 400 million people, have diabetes. Complications from diabetes are particularly acute in the eye. These include Diabetic Macular Edema and Diabetic Retinopathy.
Diabetic Retinopathy is the most common cause of blindness in adults. High blood sugar intiates a process of new blood vessel growth called neovascularization. There is no cure and current treatments provide only temporary relief. The condition is progressive, advancing from Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR) to Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR) as the patient ages. Twenty five percent of people with diabetes have NPDR, 5% of people have NPDR with the presence of Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). Overall 35% of people with diabetes have a form of Diabetic Retinopathy.