Diabetics More Likely to Suffer from Vision Loss

by VR Sreeraman on Oct 15 2008 12:51 PM

Visual impairment is more common in people with diabetes than those without the disease, according to a new study.

"Diabetic retinopathy [damage to the retina caused by diabetes], one of the most common microvascular complications of diabetes, is considered to be one of the major causes of blindness and low vision," the researchers said.

It has been brought to light that even though diabetic patients may try to keep a safe distance from diabetic retinopathy by controlling glucose and blood pressure, they may fall prey to other optical impediments suffered by diabetic patients, such as cataract and glaucoma, may increase the risk of visual impairment.

Xinzhi Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys only to find that diabetics are more prone to decreased vision caused by an abnormal shape of the cornea.

"People with diabetes were more likely to have uncorrectable vision impairment than those without diabetes, even after controlling for selected other factors," the authors write.

"Our findings also suggest a strong association between visual impairment (correctable and uncorrectable) and older age, member of racial/ethnic minorities, lower income and lack of health insurance, all independent of diabetes status," they added.

The author insisted that there is an immediate need for proper health strategies to get rid of visual impairment among diabetics.

"The high prevalence of visual impairment among people with diabetes indicates a need for diverse public health strategies to reduce the burden of both correctable and uncorrectable visual impairment," the author stated.

"It is important to identify and pursue ways to increase access to eye care for everyone and to correct visual impairment, where possible, to diminish morbidity and mortality due to impaired vision," the author added.

The study has been published in the October issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.