Diabetes and the Eye
Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the United States in people under age sixty five. Studies have shown that better or stricter control of the diabetes decreases the systemic complications secondary to diabetes. In the eyes, diabetes causes a loss of capillaries and blood flow in the retina. The blood vessels become abnormal leaking blood and serum into the retina causing damage to the retina. The loss of blood flow progresses to a point where a substance called vascular endothelial growth factor is produced in the retina. The substance stimulates the growth of new blood vessels in the retina and on the surface on the retina. The new vessels are abnormal and are prone to bleeding. They also stimulate fibrosis and scarring which can lead to traction retinal detachments.
Early Diagnosis of Diabetic Retinopathy
Early diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy leads to better outcomes with early intervention and treatment. All people with diabetes should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam yearly. Depending on the status of the retina your retina, your eye doctor may want to see you more often if they are concerned about the condition of your retina.
Data from the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet (Jan. 26, 2011)
Prevalence of Diabetes in the United States
Total Number of People with Diabetes
25.8 million children and adults in the United States or
8.3% of the population has diabetes and the number is growing rapidly
Diagnosed – 18.8 million people
Undiagnosed – 7.0 million people
Pre-diabetic – 79 million people
Under Age 20
215,000 or about 1 in 400 children and adolescents
Over Age 20
25.6 million or 11.3% of people in the United States
Age 65 and Older
10.9 million or 26.9 % 0f people over age 65 in the United States
Men Over Age 20
13.0 million or 11.8% of men in the United States
Women Over Age 20
12.6 million or 10.8% of women in the United States
Race and Ethnic Prevalence
Medical Complications of Diabetes
Heart Disease and Stroke (CVA)
Adults with diabetes have a 2 to 4 times higher heart disease death rate than adults without diabetes.
Adults with diabetes have a 2 to 4 times higher rate of stroke, TIA, or CVA than adults without diabetes.
High Blood Pressure
Adults over age 20 with diabetes had elevated blood pressure in 67% OF CASES.
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in the United States accounting for 44% of new cases.
Nervous System Diseases
Approximately 70% of patients with diabetes have some form of neuropathy or damage to the nervous system.
Greater than 60% of non-traumatic amputations occur in people with diabetes.
Deaths Related to Diabetes
Approximately 250,000 deaths a year are attributed to some extent secondary to diabetes.
Economic or Cost of Diabetes
Approximately 200 billion dollars per year are the costs related to the diagnosis of diabetes.
Blindness Secondary to Diabetes
Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people under age 65 in the United States. Nearly 30% of people with diabetes over age 40 have diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetes is a huge problem facing America today with the complications related to diabetes. The number of people being diagnosed with diabetes is rapidly increasing. The American diet and lack of exercise is the main contributing factors. Too many people are losing their vision and going blind from diabetes. We need to change our diets and exercise habits if we want to improve our health. The damage to our bodies and the economic costs related to diabetes are catastrophic and only increasing.