Preserving eyesight

Latest News

  • EUROCONDOR Final General Assembly and EASDec 2016

    The EUROCONDOR project held its 6th and final General Assembly on Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd of June 2016 at Citylabs facilities in Manchester, U.K. right before the beginning of the EASDec 2016 (annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes Eye Complications).

  • World Diabetes Day (#WDD 2015) - November 14th

    As every year, November 14th was World Diabetes Day (WDD), the first and largest global awareness campaign on Diabetes. By that date, the EUROCONDOR project just completed its one-of-a-kind 2-year clinical trial, whose results will be available in March 2016! Follow the latest news on the project on this website and learn more about World Diabetes Day with our partner IDF-Europe!

  • EVER 2015 Congress - Nice, France, October 7th-10th

    This year's edition of EVER Congress hosted lectures from several partners of the EUROCONDOR Consortium, mostly in a session titled "Diabetic Retinopathy: a neurodegenerative disease", which addressed very specifically the innovative focus and rationale of our project.


    EUROCONDOR took part in World Sight Day, a global annual event to focus attention worldwide on vision impairment and blindness. This year's call for action was EYE CARE FOR ALL!, a priority of the project which aims at improving the lives of millions of people living with diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy.

  • Partner IDF-Europe represents EUROCONDOR at the 51st Annual Congress of EASD

    [P]This year's edition of the EASD (European Association for the Study of Diabetes) congress was held in Stockholm, from September 14th to 18th 2015.

  • EUROCONDOR Annual Meeting, Turin, June 26th 2015

    This year, the EUROCONDOR partners held their 5th General Assembly in Turin. As a satellite of the EASDec 2015 congress, this Annual Meeting was held in the Aula Magna lecture room of the Cavallerizza Reale, an iconic architectural complex from the mid XVIIIth century. The lectures and presentations gave all partners a chance to review together the progress of the project and its 2-year one-of-a-kind Clinical Trial.

  • EUROCONDOR at 2015 BIO International Convention

    BCN Peptides, one of EUROCONDOR partners, attended the 2015 BIO International Convention. Celebrated in Philadelphia, from June 15th to 18th, it is the world's largest biotechnology gathering. Aside from giving visibility to the EUROCONDOR project, BCN Peptides explored partnership opportunities and potential outcomes for Somatostatin eyedrops..

  • Combating vision loss: an inside view of EUROCONDOR

    In an article recently published by the International Diabetes Federation Europe, Prof Scanlon and Elena Beltramo explain what the research project is all about.

  • Prof Simó shares views on diabetic retinopathy

    Prof Simó was a guest speaker on diabetic retinopathy at REDDSTAR's exploitation workshop on 21 October 2014. The project looks at how stromal cell therapy can be used to treat diabetes and prevent complications.

  • EUROCONDOR partners take stock of project's progress at 4th Annual Meeting

    Partners of the project met a few weeks ago to review the progress of the clinical trial which started early 2013, and to identify the next steps in the project.

  • REDDSTAR Project: Reducing diabetes complications using stem cells

    The REDDSTAR Project will examine if Stromal Stem Cells can safely control glycaemia and alleviate damage caused by six diabetes-related complications.

  • Visit the IDF Europe Newsroom for the latest news on European research on diabetes in Europe

    IDF Europe, partner of EUROCONDOR, has built an online platform to share the latest developments of research projects in the field of diabetes and chronic diseases.

  • AIBILI to present EUROCONDOR baseline data at 2014 ARVO annual meeting

    EUROCONDOR project partner AIBILI will present the project's baseline data in a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology held from 4 to 8 May 2014 in Orlando, Florida.

  • Prof. Simó gives an update on EUROCONDOR at 2014 Euretina Winter Meeting

    EUROCONDOR Project Coordinator Prof. Simó from VHIR gave a presentation on the "Metabolic fingerprints of proliferative diabetic retinopathy"

  • EUROCONDOR project on EU research online portal

    EUROCONDOR is now part of the online portal, an EU initiative that aims to promote European research projects to the general public

  • EUROCONDOR clinical trial to begin in February 2013

    Clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of a new therapeutic treatment to combat diabetic retinopathy to start in several clinical centres across Europe.

  • EUROCONDOR in Parliament Magazine - November 2012

    Coinciding with World Diabetes Day, Dr. Rafael Simó presented the EUROCONDOR project to Parliament Magazine.


Diabetic Retinopathy

Epidemiology of diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is an eye disease that occurs in people living with diabetes, which can ultimately lead to severe loss of vision and even blindness.

DR is the most common complication of diabetes. Proliferative DR and macular oedema develop at more advanced stages. Proliferative DR occurs when abnormal blood vessels form in the retina in response to lack of oxygen. Diabetic macular oedema/edema (DMO/DME), another important event that occurs in DR, is more frequent in type 2 than type 1 diabetes and involves leakage of fluid in the macula, the central part of the retina where central vision are located.

The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy is directly related to how long a person has had diabetes: approximately 90% of patients with type 1 diabetes and 60% of those with type 2 diabetes develop some form of diabetic retinopathy 20 years after the onset of the disease.

The prevalence of people with DR in European countries is relatively similar, ranging from 21.9 to 36.8%.

Current treatment of diabetic retinopathy

Proper control of blood glucose levels and blood pressure are essential in preventing or stopping DR development. However, proper control is hard to achieve and consequently DR appears in a high proportion of people living with diabetes.

Treatments for DR do exist. However current treatments are only indicated in advanced stages of the disease and are invasive, costly and associated with significant side-effects. Therefore, new non-invasive and cost-effective treatments for the early stages of DR are needed.

Below is a brief overview of the treatments currently available.

When it comes to treating DR, laser photocoagulation remains the main option currently available. The objective is not to improve vision but to stabilize DR, thus preventing severe visual loss. When given early enough, it reduces the risk of blindness by 90% over the following 5 years, and also reduces the loss of visual acuity by 50% in those patients with macular oedema. However, laser photocoagulation is often delivered too late. Therefore, the effectiveness of the treatment is significantly lower. In addition, laser photocoagulation destroys part of the healthy retina. Side-effects of this are uncommon but include impairment of both dark adaptation and colour vision, visual field loss and rarely loss in visual acuity.

A second treatment used to combat DR (in particular Diabetic Macular Oedema – DMO) is intravitreal corticosteroids. Injections of intravitreal corticosteroids have been used to treat eyes with persistent DME and loss of vision following the failure of conventional treatment. However, re-injections are commonly needed, and there are important adverse effects such as infection, glaucoma and cataract formation.

In recent years, intravitreal anti-VEGF agents have also emerged as new treatments for more advanced stages of DR. This is an invasive procedure, which can lead to complications such as endophthalmitis, retinal detachment or even deleterious effects for the remaining healthy retina. This is of particular importance for people living with diabetes who might need long-term treatment. Apart from local side effects, anti-VEGF agents could also produce systemic complications due to their capacity to pass into the systemic circulation. Therefore, specific studies in diabetic patients on the long term effectiveness and safety of intravitreal anti-VEGF agents are still needed.

Another treatment for DR is vitreoretinal surgery. However, it is required for the more severe complication of DR and is expensive and complicated. It is delivered by specialist centres.

New hypotheses and emerging treatments

DR has been classically considered to be a microcirculatory disease of the retina. However, there is growing evidence to suggest that retinal neurodegeneration is an early event in the pathogenesis of DR which precedes and participates in the microcirculatory abnormalities that occur in DR. For this reason, it is reasonable to think that therapeutic strategies based on neuroprotection could be effective not only in preventing or arresting retinal neurodegeneration, but also in preventing the development and progression of the early stages of DR (eg. microaneurysms and/or retinal thickening). Several neuroprotective drugs such as somatostatin and brimonidine have been successfully used in experimental models of DR treatments. However, no clinical trials with these neuroprotective drugs have been carried out to date.

When the early stages of DR are the therapeutic target, it would be inappropriate to recommend aggressive treatments such as laser photocoagulation or intravitreal injections. Until now, the use of eye drops has not been considered a good route for the administration of drugs aiming to prevent or stop the development of DR. Evidence is now emerging that eye drops are useful in treating several diseases of the retina, including DR. This opens up the possibility of developing topical therapy in the early stages of DR.