Eye Disease Rates Rise Along With Diabetes Cases

Study finds more vision problems as diabetes rates grow
elderly woman with blue eyes

A new study finds the number of people with vision problems is increasing.  And this is partly due to the increasing number of people who have diabetes.

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Ophthalmologist Rishi Singh, MD, did not take part in the study but says it isn’t easy to catch these vision problems early with diabetes. Diabetes-related eye problems aren’t symptomatic until late stages. 

You can develop cataracts, glaucoma and blood vessels either on the front or the back of the eye, called neovascularization, says Dr. Singh.

“These blood vessels are involved in what lead to vision loss over time,” Dr. Singh says. “Until those blood vessels actually break, or the vision starts failing significantly, then people may not be aware of what’s happening.”

Nonrefractive visual impairment studied

Refractive visual impairment includes conditions which cause blurred vision. They are typically corrected by glasses, contact lenses or surgery.

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Nonrefractive visual impairment is caused by eye disease, including:

Researchers at Johns Hopkins looked to establish a link between the increase in the number of people with nonrefractive visual impairment and its risk factors.

They found the prevalence of people developing eye diseases is increasing and the biggest underlying cause appears to be diabetes.

Focus on detection of eye disease

Researchers say the focus should continue to shift to causes, prevention and treatment efforts.

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Dr. Singh says early detection is key.

“There is a progression with the sugar causing the cataracts to form. The diabetic retinopathy progresses over time and the glaucoma progresses from that. But these are all treatable. We have treatments, drugs and tests available to really hone in on what the problem is.”

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