Blacks With Type 1 Diabetes Have High Risk of Vision Loss, Study Finds
Blacks with type 1 diabetes have a high risk of losing vision in at least one eye, according to a study published in the August issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, Reuters reports. Poor blood sugar control has been known to increase the risk of losing vision, according to study lead author Monique Roy of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
Vision loss has been studied in whites with type 1 diabetes, but Roy and co-author Joan Sunice were unaware of any large-scale studies on the condition in blacks. For the study, researchers over a period of six years followed 500 blacks with type 1 diabetes to determine the rate of vision loss and risk factors associated with the condition. Researchers found that 4.3% of participants developed vision loss, which was defined as visual acuity of 20/40 or worse, in their better eye and that 0.6% became blind, which is considered 20/200 or worse, in their better eye.
An additional 9.8% of participants developed double vision, defined as the loss of 15 or more letters on the eye chart between the first and second visit, in their better eye, and 13.5% showed a doubling of vision in either eye, which is considered "particularly high," according to the study. Besides poor blood sugar control, older age, high protein levels and diabetic retinopathy are predictors of vision loss over six years, the study found. Roy suggested increased monitoring of retinopathy and kidney disease to help prevent the severity of vision loss.
Roy added, "Since African-Americans with diabetes as a whole have poor blood sugar control ... a major effort to improve glucose control must be made by patients and physicians taking care of such patients" (Hendry, Reuters, 8/21).
An abstract of the study is available online.