Vision Problems Occur During Pre-Diabetes

Eight percent of patients may have diabetic retinopathy, study finds

SUNDAY, June 12, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly eight percent of people with pre-diabetes may have diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to blindness, a new study reports.

The research involved participants in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), which included over 3,200 people with impaired glucose tolerance, another term for pre-diabetes.

Pre-diabetes is a condition in which a person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but aren't high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy, which begins with changes in the small vessels in the back of the eye, was also found in 12 percent of study participants who developed type 2 diabetes. The research was funded by the U.S. National Eye Institute.

The findings were presented Sunday at the American Diabetes Association's annual scientific sessions in San Diego.

"Previous studies have not accurately defined when type 2 diabetes begins, so our understanding of the onset of diabetic eye disease has been limited. Now we know that diabetic retinopathy does occur in pre-diabetes, within an average of three years after diagnosis," Dr. Richard Hamman, DPP vice chairman, said in a prepared statement.

"This adds to our understanding of the development of retinopathy and suggests that changes in the eye may be starting earlier and at lower glucose levels than we previously thought," added Hamman, chairman of the department of preventive medicine and biometrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Dr. Emily Chew, of the National Eye Institute, said, "These findings reinforce the recommendation that patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes should be screened for retinopathy. We advise good control of blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol as well as regular eye exams."

More information

The National Eye Institute has more about diabetic retinopathy.

SOURCE: American Diabetes Association, news release, June 12, 2005
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