Severe Loss of Vision from Diabetes is DECREASING!

Severe Loss of Vision from Diabetes is DECREASING!

A new study released last week confirms that we are making terrific progress in saving sight!  The incidence of severe vision loss in Type I diabetes has decreased significantly over the past 25 years.  The rate of severe vision loss dropped from 1.19% in 1980-82 to 0.30% in 2005-07.

Incidence: an individual’s chances of developing a medical problem (e.g. severe vision loss) over a time period.

Prevalence: the number of people in a population who already have developed the medical problem

Also noted was that the prevalence of severe vision loss decreased when an earlier diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy was made, that is, the life long risk of developing severe vision loss from diabetic retinopathy is significantly reduced when an early diagnosis is made.

Several observations could account for the reduction;

1)  today’s standard insulin therapies have fewer complication rates than compared to those 25 years ago.  For instance, the chance of developing proliferative diabetic retinopathy is now only 9% compared to 25% (in the early 1980’s).

2)  patient’s now receive better overall health care.  For example,  improved sugar control, better treatments for diabetic retinopathy and blood pressure control.

The authors of the study also noted that, as expected, the longer a patient has been diabetic, the higher the chances of visual impairment.

What Does This Mean? To me this signals that we are making great progress in education and treatment of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy and high blood pressure.  The study underscores the importance of regular medical visits not only for your eyes, but for other diseases as well.  This study suggests that diabetic retinopathy is best treated the earlier it is diagnosed and further stresses why patients with diabetes need routine eye exams!

This is all good news.  The article “Vision Problems in Type I Diabetes on the Decline” may require membership before viewing.


Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist

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