(RxWiki News) From a patient's head to their toes, diabetes can lead to a variety of complications. But many diabetes patients may not know the condition has affected their vision.
A recent study found that less than half of patients with diabetic macular edema (causes blurry vision) had been told by their doctor that diabetes had affected their eyes.
The authors of this study noted that patients need to be made aware of the affect that diabetes can have on their vision.
"Have your eyes checked regularly by your doctor."
This study was led by Neil M. Bressler, MD, of the Wilmer Eye Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. The research team determined the level of awareness and treatment for patients with diabetic macular edema in the general population.
Diabetic macular edema is an eye condition where fluid leaks into the macula — the part of the eye that provides clear, detailed vision — and causes the macula to swell and leads to blurry vision. It occurs as a result of diabetes, and if left untreated, it can lead to permanent vision loss.
Diabetic macular edema typically occurs after diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition where blood vessels in the retina are damaged, which also causes vision loss.
For this study, Dr. Bressler and colleagues analyzed data from the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This study involved data from 798 participants who were at least 40 years of age and reported that they had diabetes. Patients were diagnosed with diabetic macular edema through retinal photographs that were taken to see the state of the retina and macula.
Study participants were asked three questions about their eye care and vision:
- “Have you been told by a doctor that diabetes has affected your eyes or that you had retinopathy?”
- “When was the last time you saw a diabetes nurse educator or dietitian or nutritionist for your diabetes?”
- “When was the last time you had an eye examination in which the pupils were dilated?”
There were 238 participants who had diabetic retinopathy but not diabetic macular edema and 48 participants who had diabetic macular edema. The rest of the participants did not have any diagnosed vision problems.
The researchers found that, among patients with diabetes and diabetic macular edema, only about 45 percent reported being told by a doctor that diabetes had affected their eyes or that they had diabetic retinopathy.
About 49 percent of patients with diabetic macular edema reported seeing a nutritionist, dietitian or diabetes nurse educator within the past year.
The researchers also found that only about 60 percent of patients with diabetic macular edema reported having an eye exam where their pupils were dilated (expanded) in the past year.
The authors of this study noted that for diabetes patients over the age of 40, diabetic macular edema is a major cause of vision problems, yet based on the findings from their study, many of these individuals may not be receiving the necessary eye care.
Diabetic macular edema is a treatable condition, but patients need to be made aware of the condition and its treatment options. According to the study authors, some therapies for diabetic macular edema include: visiting diabetes nurse educators, nutritonists, and dieticians and getting regular eye exams.
These authors concluded that patients need to be educated about the effects that diabetes can have on their vision.
This study was published on December 19 in JAMA Ophthalmology.
Some of the study's authors reported potential competing interests with companies, including Baush & Lomb, Novartis Pharma AG and Optovue, Inc.