As diabetes increases, so do retinal problems

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Here s one more reason not to skip your next eye appointment. A recent analysis sponsored by Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute found that, in the past decade, the number of people over 40 with vision impairment and blindness increased by 23 percent. Even more disturbing, for those with diabetes, there was a whopping 89 percent increase in the incidence of diabetic retinal abnormalities known as diabetic retinopathy.

In addition to the increasingly upward-skewing age of our population, the rise in the number of diabetics suffering from retinopathy can also be attributed to the rise in diabetes incidence, which, to some extent, is related to the growing prevalence of obesity. But there is a silver lining: If detected early, the condition is treatable.

It s important to shed light on the severity of the issue, says ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross, because early detection and prevention is key. It s vital for diabetics to have routine eye exams annually or even more often because, if found early, diabetic retinopathy can be treated with photocoagulation, which is why physicians and patients should be rigorous about scheduling regular follow-ups.