Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. It affects the blood vessels in the retina and the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eye. Retinopathy occurs in most people with long-standing diabetes but its incidence can be reduced with aggressive control of blood glucose and blood pressure. New research shows approximately 4.1 million Americans, age 40 or older, suffer from diabetic retinopathy, and that number is expected to climb.
A recent study shows one in 12 diabetics in the 40 and over age group has reached the vision-threatening stage of this disease. Specialists say even though diabetic retinopathy is a disease occurring only among persons with [diabetes], the prevalence of [diabetes] in the general population is high enough that diabetic retinopathy is highly prevalent in the adult population.
Investigators pooled data from eight eye surveys and estimated prevalence rates for diabetes reported in the 1999 National Health Interview Study and the 2000 U.S. Census. An estimated 10.2 million adults ages 40 and over have diabetes in the United States.