Retinopathy: Not Just for Diabetics

Researchers find retinopathy as prevalent for pre-diabetics as diabetics

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Once thought of as a diabetics-only eye disease, retinopathy can affect those whose blood glucose levels are higher than normal on a consistent basis.

Researchers at Hôpital Lariboisière, Paris, studied the retinas of 700 men and women and found 44 of whom had retinopathy (non-inflammatory damage to the retina of the eye usually resulting from uncontrolled blood vessel growth). Of those identified with the potentially blinding eye disease, 235 had diabetes (defined as being treated for the disease or having a glucose level of 126 milligrams per deciliter or higher at least once), 227 had an impaired fasting plasma glucose level (pre-diabetes -- 110 to 125 milligrams per deciliter), and 238 always had glucose levels within normal limits (less than 110 milligrams per deciliter).

Of the study participants, 44 were diagnosed with retinopathy -- 19 with diabetes, 19 with impaired fasting glucose levels and six with normal glucose levels.

Although non-diabetics generally have a milder form of retinopathy, the study results indicate other factors beside fasting plasma glucose levels may increase the retinopathy risk, said study leader Pascale Massin, M.D., Ph.D., of Hôpital Lariboisière.

Based on evidence from the study, the researchers propose fasting glucose levels of 108 milligrams per deciliter or greater could be used to define those at risk of developing retinopathy. They conclude that factors other than fasting glucose levels play only a minor role in risk of the disease.

Retinopathy is the most commonly diagnosed eye disease in diabetics and a leading cause of blindness in adults and premature infants.

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Review Date: 
February 21, 2011
Last Updated:
February 21, 2011