Early detection of diabetic neuropathy

I want to share with you an update on the research I have been working on. In addition to my work on targeted nutritional therapies, I have been working with a great team at Mount Sinai Hospital (Toronto) on technologies to detect diabetic neuropathy as early as possible.
People with diabetes are faced with the very serious risk of developing complications. The most common complication is nerve damage, diagnosed as diabetic neuropathy. However, current diagnostic criteria require many different symptoms to be present.

We know that neuropathy starts by damaging small nerves, which can cause painful symptoms before damage to large nerves that control balance and walking. To be diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy, it typically requires someone to have both symptoms and dysfunction in large nerve fibres.
My research group has been working on a non-invasive test that images the small nerve fibres in your eye (corneal nerves). This technique can detect the earliest damage to small nerve fibres. I have been leading the development of reference standards that will be used for monitoring annual change. 

My presentation yesterday at the Diabetes Canada Conference showed that from a population of over 500 participants with type 1 and 2 diabetes monitored over 5 years, that a loss of 6%/year is considered abnormal. This work will help clinicians identify patients that are at risk for a rapid progression in neuropathy symptoms and allows for a change in their clinical management. 

Dr. Evan Lewis PhD Diabetic Neuropathy Researcher
So what does this mean outside of the research clinic?