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Retinopathy Common Among Adults With Diabetes in U.S.

Includes high rate of vision-threatening retinopathy; prevalence especially high in blacks

TUESDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-aged and older Americans with diabetes have a high prevalence of diabetic retinopathy -- including vision-threatening retinopathy -- a finding that is especially notable in non-Hispanic blacks, according to research published in the Aug. 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Xinzhi Zhang, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,006 adults aged 40 and older with diabetes who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2008. Participants had been previously diagnosed with diabetes or had glycated hemoglobin A1c of at least 6.5 percent.

The researchers found that the estimated prevalence of diabetic retinopathy was 28.5 percent, and the estimated prevalence of vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy was 4.4 percent. The condition was slightly more common in men (31.6 versus 25.7 percent). The crude prevalence of retinopathy was higher in non-Hispanic blacks than non-Hispanic whites (38.8 versus 26.4 percent), as was vision-threatening retinopathy (9.3 percent versus 3.2 percent). Aside from male sex, other factors linked with higher odds of the condition were higher hemoglobin A1c level, longer diabetes duration, higher systolic blood pressure, and insulin use.

"These estimates provide policy makers updated information for use in planning eye care services and rehabilitation. With the aging of the population and the increasing proportion of the population with diverse racial/ethnic heritage, the number of cases of diabetic retinopathy and vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy will likely increase," the authors write.

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