The newsLINK Group - Diabetic Eye Disease

Editorial Library Category: Health Topics: Diabetes, Eye Disease Title: Diabetic Eye Disease Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: People with diabetes are at a greater risk than the general population for eye problems that can lead to blindness. Just how bad are the odds? Editorial: Diabetic Eye Disease 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 People with diabetes are at a greater risk than the general population for eye problems that can lead to blindness. Just how bad are the odds? The National Eye Institute has stated that as many as 24,000 people who have diabetes go blind every year. Diabetic retinopathy is the main cause of blindness in adults under the age of 65. Diabetics are 40 percent more likely to develop glaucoma. Diabetics are 60 percent more likely to develop cataracts. In addition to glaucoma and cataracts, diabetes can also cause nonproliferative and proliferative retinopathy. Nonproliferative retinopathy is the less serious form, but it can lead to macular edema. In time, the disease progresses to become proliferative retinopathy. It is important for patients with diabetes to understand that they need the best eye care possible. This means having a yearly eye exam conducted by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. If a retinopathy problem is detected, then an ophthalmologist must treat it. What advice can you give to patients who have diabetes? Research has already shown that controlling blood sugar is extremely important to prevent retinopathy. On a temporary level, high blood sugar can cause vision to blur. Of more concern is what happens in the long term. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases funded a major clinical study, The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), from 1983 to 1993. It involved 1,441 volunteers with type 1 diabetes between the ages of 13 and 39 and it involved 29 different medical centers in the U.S. and Canada. The DCCT volunteers either had no diabetic eye disease or showed only the early signs. They had been diagnosed with diabetes more than a year and less than 15 years at the beginning of the study. During the study, intensive control was defined to mean keeping hemoglobin A1C levels as close as possible to a normal value, where “normal” is six percent or less over a two to three-month period. After the DCCT ended, another study of more than 90 percent of the participants from the DCCT study began. It was called Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC). Researchers assessed: The predictors and incidents for problems involving the heart; namely, heart attack or stroke and the need for heart surgery. Any diabetic complications involving the nerves, kidneys, or eye. The impact on quality of life for intensive control instead of standard control. The cost effectiveness of intensive control. As an eye-care professional, you are probably most focused on what the DCCT revealed about reducing the risk of eye disease for these diabetic patients. What researchers found was that it reduced the risk by an astounding 76 percent, and for those who had already experienced some damage from the diabetes, progress of that damage was slowed by 54 percent. However, other results were also significant: The DCCT study found that the risk of kidney disease was reduced 50 percent, and the risk of nerve disease was reduced 60 percent. The EDIC study found that patients reduced their risk for any cardiovascular event caused by heart disease by 42 percent, and they reduced their risk for a nonfatal heart attack, stroke, or death by 57 percent. Clearly, intensive management of blood glucose has big payoffs. A patient who decides to manage blood glucose in this way must understand clearly that it does involve a great deal of effort and money, essentially doubling the cost of managing diabetes, and it also requires a consistent commitment over time: Following a plan for diet and exercise.