Diabetic retinopathy found responsible for increasing vision loss across the globe

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Diabetes has been a major health concern in recent times, although significant progress has been made in the area of curtailing the mortality rate associated with the diseases, however, one major growing concern is the associated link of diabetes to vision loss.

In a recent publication by the Diabetes Care Journal, it was revealed that there has been alarming increase over the last two decades across the globe on the reported cases of diabetes induced loss of vision. In statistical terms, it was shown that in 1990, about 1 person out of 52 people and 1 in every 39 people had vision loss caused by diabetic retinopathy. The above implies that the number of people suffering with diabetes-related blindness or visual impairment increased from 27 percent in 1990 to 64 percent in 2010.

Some factors identified by the researchers as responsible for this are poor control of blood glucose and inadequate access to eye health services in many parts of the world. With the growth in number of people living with diabetes globally, it suggests that the probability that more people will develop diabetic retinopathy and suffer subsequent vision loss is high if they are not given required treatment or adhere to the care they need.

Diabetic retinopathy is a disease of the retina that causes vision loss as a result of chronic high blood sugar in diabetes. The high sugar damages the delicate blood vessels in the retina which is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye. The blood vessels start to leak and distort vision when the condition deteriorates. In people with advanced diabetic retinopathy, fresh abnormal blood vessels grow in the retina, causing further damage and eventually permanent scarring and vision loss or blindness.

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According to Janet Leasher, associate professor of the College of Optometry at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, no symptoms is visible in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy which usually contributes to the worsening of the condition. So, regular annual eye test in addition to keeping blood sugar level in control is needed by people with diabetes.

The researchers carried out a meta-analysis of published population studies from 19902012 for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 in the course of their investigation. They extracted and pooled data on diabetic retinopathy to arrive at estimates of global regional trends on the condition as a cause of moderate and severe vision impairment and blindness. It was discovered that between 1990 and 2010, South Asia, Middle East and North Africa, as well as Sub-Saharan West Africa regions had the highest number of people with visual impairment caused by diabetic retinopathy, while East Asia, Tropical Latin America, and Sub-Saharan South Africa recorded the highest number of people with blindness as a result of the condition.

Furthermore, the research shown that the highest increase in the proportion of the over50s population whose vision impairment was caused by diabetic retinopathy happened in Central, South, and Tropical Latin America, while South Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Latin America, and Central Sub-Saharan Africa recorded the highest increase in the proportion of over-50s rendered blind by the condition. A related slight fall in visual impairment due to diabetic retinopathy was found in South and Southeast Asia, Oceania, and East and West Sub-Saharan Africa.

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The above disturbing figures made Rupert R.A. Bourne, professor and associate director of the Vision and Eye Research Unit at Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom to remark that with the alarming prevalence of vision loss due to diabetes rising more than two thirds in the last 20 years, the precipitous global epidemic of diabetes must be addressed. The team advises policymakers in the regions mostly affected by diabetic retinopathy to design, develop and marshal out implementable plans for preserving the vision of diabetic adults, screen for diabetic retinopathy, and improve glucose and blood pressure in diabetics.

In addition, there is need to intensify efforts to prevent and treat diabetic retinopathy with the use of laser treatments, intravitreal injections of steroids, and some vascular endothelial growth factor drugs. Diabetic patients should have a dilated eye health examination at least one annually in addition to using the best methods to control their blood sugar levels.

Source Medical Health Today News Bulletin

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