Retinopathy Progression Risk High in Black Diabetics

Researchers link poor control of blood sugar and hypertension with retinopathy progression

MONDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Black patients with type 1 diabetes are at high risk for diabetic retinopathy development or progression over time, according to a study published in the September issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology. More than half of patients with diabetic retinopathy showed progression over a six-year period.

Monique S. Roy, M.D., of the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey Medical School in Newark, and a colleague conducted a six-year study of 483 patients (mean age 27.5). At baseline, 196 patients (40.6 percent) did not have diabetic retinopathy, 169 (35 percent) had a mild case and 118 (24.4 percent) had a moderate-to-severe case.

After six years, the researchers found evidence of diabetic retinopathy in 72.3 percent of patients who were initially disease-free. They also found evidence of progression in 56 percent of patients who initially had diabetic retinopathy. Of these, 22 percent had vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy, 15 percent progressed to proliferative retinopathy and 15.9 percent developed macular edema.

"Poor glycemic control and systemic hypertension are two modifiable risk factors significantly associated with progression of diabetic retinopathy," the authors conclude. "Because glycemic and blood pressure control in this population are poor, measures to improve medical care and ensure regular dilated eye examination to detect vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy may reduce morbidity from the disease."

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