Sight problems that cannot be fixed by glasses may be on the rise and could possibly be linked to growing diabetes rates.
Eye damage is one of the biggest complications for diabetic sufferers. Increasing rates of patients suffering from the disease may play a role in the increase of reported visual impairment. Researchers have found that rates of non-refractive visual impairment (vision problems not due to need for glasses) have grown in recent years.
Refractive errors amount to roughly 11 million people suffering vision problems. This means the problems may be corrected by glasses.
The message is for diabetics to assist in taking control of their condition to prevent permanent eye damage.
It is estimated that in the US alone up to 14 million Americans 12 years of age and older are visually impaired. In the past ten year the rates of non-refractive visual impairment increased by 21%. Among whites between 20 and 39 years of age, rates increased by 40 percent.
Non-refractive visual impairment is most commonly caused in the US by macular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy amongst others.
Study results showed that specifically
- older age was associated with 1.07 times increased odds of non-refractive visual impairment
- poverty was associated with 2.18 times increased odds of non-refractive visual impairment
- lack of insurance was associated with 1.85 times increased odds of non-refractive visual impairment
- diabetes diagnosed at least 10 years ago was associated with 2.23 times increased odds of non-refractive visual impairment
If both visual impairment and diabetes rates continue to grow, it could lead to higher rates of disability in the U.S., including greater numbers of patients with irreversible eye damage caused by diabetes, the authors said.