Unmet Need


ore than 463 million patients are living with diabetes. A serious complication of diabetes is Diabetic Retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy is a serious complication of diabetes and is caused by high circulating levels of blood glucose that damages the eye leading to capillary breakdown, edema, and permeant vision loss.

The leading therapies currently used to treat Diabetic Retinopathy inhibit edema in the back of the eye (the retina) and are usually given late in the disease process after vision loss has already occurred. The greatest unmet medi­cal need is for more effective treatments that halt and reverse disease progression earlier in the disease process before vision loss and blindness occurs.

Facts on Diabetic Retinopathy

Better treatments are needed to prevent vision loss and blindness.

Growing Problem

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the leading cause of blindness among working age adults. Globally there are 463 million adults living with diabetes, and this number is expected to increase to 700 million by 2045 according to the International Diabetes Federation [www.idf.org]. Over 125 million of these patients with diabetes have DR. Driven by the increased prevalence of diabetes and the aging population in the developed world, the incidence of DR is expected to continue to rise placing a huge economic and public health burden on these populations in the developed world. [ADA 2018].

American Diabetes Association (ADA).’ Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2017’. Diabetes Care 2018 41: 917–928

Vision Loss

Diabetic retinopathy is observed in approximately 30% of all patients with diabetes [Lee 2015]. This eye complication of diabetes is associated with a high risk of developing permanent vision loss. With long lasting diabetic disease, significant vision loss or blindness occurs in up to 5% of the patients with diabetic retinopathy [Lee 2015]. With the global increase in the incidence and prevalence of diabetes, the number of individuals with diabetic retinopathy continues to rise with an estimated 30 million diabetic patients suffering from different stages of diabetic retinopathy in the US and Europe alone.

Lee, R et al. (2015). ‘Epidemiology of diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema and related vision loss’. Eye Vis (Lond). 2015 30:2-17

Cause of Blindness

The hallmark of diabetic retinopathy is that high glucose and other stressors damage the small blood vessels and capillaries of the eyes. High circulating glucose levels leads to endothelial cell and pericyte uncoupling and capillary break-down with resulting regional areas of ischemia in the back of the eye. Importantly, these areas of capillary breakdown represent damaged retinal tissue resulting permanent vision loss. Although patients may not notice this initially in the early stages of disease, these lesions functionally result in damaged peripheral vision and reduced night vision.

In more advanced stages of the disease, vascular leakage and diabetic macular edema (DME) may cause significant impairment of the central vision and if left untreated permanent vision loss may continue to progress into blindness.

Based on the global high prevalence of diabetes and the limited availability of effective disease control and treatments, diabetic retinopathy is today the leading cause of blindness in working age adults.

Normal Vision


Advanced DR

Photos courtesy of the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health. (Photo: Business Wire).

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