By Emily White.

University of Lincoln has been awarded £900,000 to take part in exciting new research into a type of diabetes, which is a major cause of blindness.An image of a diabetic eye. Photo: University of Lincoln press officeThis funding has been given by the European Union’s Marie Curie Initial Training programme to the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science. The project involves developing radical new retinal imaging technology.

The development of this new technology hopes to detect diabetic retinopathy in its earliest stages, and improve the prevention and treatment of this major cause of blindness which is a common complication of diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the cells in the retina at the back of the eye.

Leading this research is University of Lincoln PhD student and Marie Curie researcher Georgios Leontidis. As part of his research, Leontidis will be investigating new methods for early screening and diagnosis of the disease by developing innovative computer models which can detect small changes in the blood vessels of the eye.

The aim of the research is to hopefully improve diagnosis, prognosis and prevention of debilitating diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and stroke.

Speaking of his research Georgios Leontidis said: “Here at the University of Lincoln our efforts focus on analysing images of diabetic patients before the first stage of diabetic retinopathy.”

“In that way we want to see what changes diabetes causes to the retina vessels and how these changes progress to retinopathy.

“We will then try to correlate the standard features we extract from these images with functional changes that occur, such as abnormality in blood pressure, blood flow volume and blood flow velocity as well as to associate them with some risk factors like age, type of diabetes, duration of diabetes, gender and smoking.”

The funding and the research are hopefully just the start of what looks to be a truly great ‘Year of Science’ for the university.