Diabetic African-American children less likely to get eye exams

African-American children with Type 1 diabetes in the United States are the least likely to receive eye exams, a new study reveals.

The finding is particularly concerning given that eye complications that can lead to blindness are significantly more common in diabetics than in people who do not have the disease.

National Eye Exam Month

August is National Eye Exam Month – a time when experts encourage parents to become more educated about their children's eye health.

The study, published in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, found that only 64 percent of eligible children were screened for retinopathy – an inflammatory eye condition that can lead to blindness – during the two-year study period.

"Children who were not screened were significantly more likely to be black or have poorer diabetes control," the authors wrote.

Sixty-six percent of white children were screened, while 54 percent of black children had exams, the study found.

Even more troubling was that the likelihood of a child having an exam was not related to whether he or she had private or public health insurance.

Early detection key

Children with Type 2 diabetes were also found to be at risk for retinopathy – out of 500 Type 2 diabetic children, nearly 14 percent showed signs of the condition.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the condition can cause spots or dark strings – called floaters – in vision, blurred vision, dark or empty areas in vision and difficulty with color perception. Left untreated, retinopathy can cause glaucoma and/or permanent vision loss.

"This study shows that our children who are at highest risk are not receiving the help they need," said study senior author Terri Lipman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, in a press release. "We need to ensure that all children have access to adequate healthcare."

Source: HealthDay

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