This health video deals with some of the major complications people with diabetes have to deal with everyday, Blindness, kidney failure, amputations are just three.
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Jennifer Matthews: Blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, amputations, heart disease, stroke, everyday fears for people with diabetes. Iris Larssen has lived with the fear and the reality for 54 years. Iris Larssen: I have very little vision in my right eye. I have good vision in my left eye, good enough so I can drive. Jennifer Matthews: Dr. Lloyd Paul Aiello says nearly every patient with diabetes will eventually develop eye damage. Dr. Lloyd Paul Aiello: The two main problems that result in vision loss are either leakage of vessels when they are not supposed to be leaking, or when vessels grow where they are not supposed to. Jennifer Matthews: Laser therapy is the standard treatment for advanced disease. Dr. Lloyd Paul Aiello: The laser actually functions by being a destructive treatment. It actually destroys areas of the retina in an attempt to save more vision that would happen otherwise. Jennifer Matthews: But it has to be done soon enough, and there are side effects, including impaired night vision and peripheral vision loss. A new treatment understudy goes to the source of the problem, which is a protein called VEGF. Dr. Lloyd Paul Aiello: It's a protein whose primary actions are to cause blood vessels to grow or blood vessels to leak. Jennifer Matthews: A drug, EYE001, prevents VEGF from working. Dr. Lloyd Paul Aiello: This could theoretically give us a way that these patients can not only prevent the complications in the future or reduce them, but do so in a way with fewer side effects. Jennifer Matthews: Another new drug, a PKC inhibitor targets nerve damage or neuropathy. Aaron Vinik: There are 85,000 amputations every year in the United States. About 87% of the precipitating factors are neuropathy. Jennifer Matthews: Most drugs simply help symptoms. PKC inhibitors do more. Aaron Vinik: This compound improves the blood supply to the nerves, so it addresses the basic biology of nerve damage. It has not only slowed the progression, but it has showed that you could actually get some reversal of the nerve damage. Jennifer Matthews: That's important for patients like Greg. He was diagnosed with diabetes in 1990 and has neuropathy. Greg Stone: I started losing feeling in my toes. It has moved progressively into both feet, up to the ankles and calves in both legs. One of these days there is hope that someday again I can regain the feeling that I have already lost. Jennifer Matthews: PKC inhibitors may also improve vision problems and help patients like Iris. But she wants more than help. Iris Larssen: I would like to see a cure. The other thing I would like to do is dance at my grandkids' wedding. Jennifer Matthews: This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.

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