According to a new study South Asians with type 2 diabetes are more likely to lose their eyesight at an earlier age compared to White Europeans with the same condition.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Warwick has shown that diabetic retinopathy (damage to the retina) is more prevalent in South Asians and occurs earlier than in White European people with diabetes.
For the study, researchers looked at 1.035 patients with type 2 diabetes, 421 were of South Asian origin and 614 were White Europeans.
The results showed 45 percent of South Asians had retinopathy, compared to 37 percent of White Europeans, and 16 percent of the South Asian group had sight threatening retinopathy, compared to 12 percent White Europeans.
South Asian diabetes patients were also significantly younger than the White European group. The average age of the South Asian group at diagnosis of diabetes was 53 years, compared to 57 years for White Europeans.
The study also suggested South Asians developed diabetic retinopathy about seven years earlier than White Europeans.
"The South Asian participants in this study had significantly higher systolic and diastolic blood pressures and cholesterol levels. Systematic screening for retinopathy, combined with intensive management of diabetes, including reduction of blood glucose and blood pressure, could help to reduce the incidence of visual impairment and blindness in ethnic minority groups across the world, addressing an important health inequality," Professor Sudhesh Kumar, Professor of Medicine, Diabetes and Endocrinology at Warwick Medical School, said.
The study has been published in the latest issue of Diabetes Care.