June 23, 2014
1 min read
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Youth, adult diabetic retinopathy to increase significantly in next decade

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Diabetes is a growing problem and is linked to diabetic retinopathy in youth and adults, according to a speaker at the Prevent Blindness Focus on Eye Health National Summit in Washington, D.C.

“Obesity is increasing and, unfortunately, that has a relationship to having diabetes and subsequently having diabetic retinopathy,” Neil Bressler, MD, said.

In people with diabetes, diabetic macular edema is the most common cause of vision impairment and blindness. An estimated 40% of people with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy, and about 10% of those people with diabetes have vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy, according to Bressler.

To see how many people with diabetes understood that the disease affects their eyes, Bressler and colleagues asked adults aged 40 years and younger if they have been told by a doctor that diabetes affected eyes or that they had retinopathy.

Eighty-three percent of patients with diabetes with or without diabetic retinopathy or DME, 72.6% of patients with diabetic retinopathy and 55.3% of patients with DME had not been told by their doctor about the effects of diabetes on vision health.

“We realize now that about half of the people with diabetes and treatable eye disease maybe underusing the health care system to prevent vision loss and blindness, and so we need to work on that in the next decade,” Bressler said.

Disclosure: Bressler is the chief of the Retina at Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the editor-in-chief at JAMA Ophthalmology.