Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Crease on earlobe? Then take care of your eyesight

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Feb 23: Diagonal crease on earlobe has long been associated with coronary heart disease and latest research by a group of Indian scientists link the presence of earlobe crease to sight-threatening diabetes retinopathy.

People with crease on their earlobes are relatively more prone to diabetes retinopathy (damage to retina, which ultimately causes blindness) than those without crease on their earlobes.

A team of researchers from Sankara Nethralaya, comprising Dr Tarun Sharma, Dr Rajiv Raman, Dr PK Rani and Dr V Kulothungan, has noticed that earlobe crease is present in nearly 60 per cent of urban south Indian population with diabetes, aged above 40 years. The presence of earlobe crease is somewhat related to sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy.

"The study is representative of a large population and results could be extrapolated to the whole of urban India," says Dr Tarun Sharma.

According to the researchers, in predicting any diabetic retinopathy, the presence of earlobe crease had sensitivity of 60.4 per cent, and specificity, 40.5 per cent. The earlobe crease was observed in nearly 60 per cent of the urban south Indian population.

The study revealed that the subjects in the earlobe crease group were older, had longer duration of diabetes and had poor glycemic (blood sugar) control. They had a higher socio-economic status as compared to the group without earlobe crease. "This could be an indirect measure of the population that is at a greater risk for coronary artery disease," the study pointed out.

The team also noticed that people with earlobe crease had almost twice the risk of developing sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy. The researchers explain that people with earlobe crease had loss of elastin (a protein that gives skin its shape). This loss of elastin in retinal blood vessels leads to increased leakage and dilatation, and gradual blindness.

"We also speculate the presence of ischemia (shortage of blood supply to particular part or parts of the body) in people with earlobe crease. The focal ischemia of the dermal fat might cause ear lobe crease, and ischemia in retina causes sight- threatening changes," the scientists pointed out.

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