Ophthalmologists have 'unique opportunity' to influence patients with diabetes-related eye diseases, according to editorial

March 10, 2009

Diabetes prevalence has doubled in the past decade, and the increases in diabetes-related eye disease poses a new challenge to eye specialists, according to an editorial in the March issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Diabetes prevalence has doubled in the past decade, and the increases in diabetes-related eye disease poses a new challenge to eye specialists, according to an editorial in the March issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA)/Archives journals.

Two editorials and a research article in the issue focus on ophthalmologic implications of metabolic diseases and are being published in conjunction with a JAMA theme issue of diabetes, obesity, and their comorbidities.

"By 2050, the number of Americans with diabetic retinopathy [affecting blood vessels in the retina] is projected to triple from 5.5 million to 16 million, and the number of those with vision-threatening retinopathy will increase from 1.2 million to 3.4 million," wrote Thomas W. Gardner, MD, MS, and Robert A. Gabbay, MD, PhD, of Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA, in the first editorial. "The number of cataracts will increase by 235% and glaucoma among elderly Hispanic individuals with diabetes will increase 12-fold."

According to Dr. Gardner and Dr. Gabby, effectively treating these conditions requires that ophthalmologists go beyond surgically treating late-stage eye disease and work with other clinicians to help patients control their diabetes before eye complications worsen.

"Ophthalmologists have a unique opportunity to influence patient behavior because vision loss is one of the most feared complications of diabetes. Helping patients make the connection between their eye disease and the ABCs of diabetes (A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol) can motivate them to improve their health,” wrote the authors.

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