Research has revealed that nearly 30 per cent of US adults with diabetes who are over 40 are estimated to have diabetic retinopathy . This eye disease, damage to the retina caused by complications of diabetes mellitus, is a major cause of new cases of blindness among adults in the United States, and is expected to cost about USD500 million annually to treat.
The study, led by Xinzhi Zhang, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, aimed to identify the most recent prevalence and risk factors of diabetic retinopathy in the US for the over 40s, and analysed data from a national survey of over a thousand people.
Photographs were taken of each eye to determine diabetic retinopathy, with researchers finding that the estimated prevalence of diabetic retinopathy and vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy during those years was 28.5 per cent and 4.4 per cent, respectively, among persons over 40 years of age and with diabetes. About 31.6 per cent of men and 25.7 per cent of women with diabetes had diabetic retinopathy.
The study stated that “These estimates provide policy makers updated information for use in planning eye care services and rehabilitation. With the aging of the population and the increasing proportion of the population with diverse racial/ethnic heritage, the number of cases of diabetic retinopathy and vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy will likely increase.
Furthermore, the need for eye care and for culturally appropriate interventions that can reduce disparity and improve access to eye care among diverse populations is also likely to increase.”

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