Diabetes-Related Blindness On The Rise

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People with diabetes are, unfortunately, often beset with a host of other health problems, including troubles with their eyesight. And a new study indicates that vision loss is rising worldwide, with diabetes as the main causal factor.

A Two-Thirds Increase

For this study, researchers at Nova Southeastern University's (NSU) College of Optometry in Fort Lauderdale/Davie, Florida, and the Vision and Eye Care Unit at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, United Kingdom analyzed cases of visual impairment between 1990 and 2010.

Their research yielded startling results: since 1990, the cases of vision loss caused by diabetes has risen by 64 percent. A vast number of these cases were the result of diabetic retinopathy, a condition that, as lead author Janet Leasher says, “usually does not have any symptoms in the early stages.”

A Global Crisis

Vision loss due to diabetes is not an isolated issue for any one country. In fact, this new research revealed that diabetics in South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and West Sub-Saharan Africa were suffered the highest cases of vision impairment. Diabetics in East Asia, Tropical Latin America, and South Sub-Saharan Africa were the mostly like to be stricken totally blind due to diabetic retinopathy.

Causes and Care

As grim as the results of this study may seem, the researchers did indicate some possible causes for the increase in retinopathy cases. One cause is the increasing lifespan of people with diabetes; according to Leasher, the longer you live, the greater your likelihood of developing retinopathy.

Leasher suggests that diabetics schedule regular eye exams to monitor their ocular health. As she said in a report:

"People diagnosed with diabetes should have a dilated eye health exam at least every year and be advised by their eye care practitioner for their personal situation. Patients should work closely with their healthcare provider to determine the best methods to control their blood sugar levels."

 
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