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Diabetes Nearly Doubles the Risk of Visual Impairment

Correctable, non-correctable impairments affect estimated 11 percent of U.S. adults with diabetes

MONDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Diabetes is strongly associated with an increased prevalence of both correctable and non-correctable visual impairments, according to a report published in the October issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Xinzhi Zhang, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data on adults aged 20 and older.

The researchers estimated a significantly higher prevalence of any form of visual impairment in adults with diabetes than in those without diabetes (11 percent versus 5.9 percent) and a significantly higher prevalence of uncorrectable visual impairment (3.8 percent versus 1.4 percent). In both diabetics and non-diabetics, they also found that older age, belonging to a racial or ethnic minority, low income and uninsured status were strongly associated with visual impairment.

"As the U.S. population ages and changes demographically, the social and economic burden of visual impairment may increase dramatically," the authors conclude. "The high prevalence of visual impairment among people with diabetes indicates a need for diverse public health strategies to reduce the burden of both correctable and uncorrectable visual impairment. It is important to identify and pursue ways to increase access to eye care for everyone and to correct visual impairment, where possible, to diminish morbidity and mortality due to impaired vision."

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