A series of coping strategies for how people manage with diabetes-related sight problems have been evaluated as part of a new study.
It is hoped understanding how people deal with diabetes-related eye complications might help develop future interventions.
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) and diabetic macular edema (DME) are both common problems and the researchers wanted to investigate how people manage the conditions.
A total of 57 people were involved in the trial and asked to give details on how they cope with vision loss, both practically and emotionally, during a series of focus groups.
The findings showed that 64% of participants used problem focused coping mechanisms with seven “sub-themes”. These included looking for information, problem solving, maintaining independence, passive coping, adapting daily activities to suit their ability level, active coping and rehearsing different outcomes.
Emotional strategies included distraction, accepting the problem, avoiding the subject, expressing emotion, denying the issue and changing emotions.
Meanwhile, many patients focused on following a healthy diet, resting and exercising more regularly in a bid to help them deal with their eye-health issues.
“Participants described a variety of ways to cope,” said the researchers. “Some strategies are likely to improve functioning and decrease distress, whereas others are expected to reduce immediate distress while perpetuating this in the longer term.
“Our findings may assist researchers to develop models of adjustment to DR/DME-related vision loss and psychosocial/educational interventions focused on adaptation.”
The risk of developing DR increases with age and duration of diabetes, and can be influenced by uncontrolled blood glucose levels over a long-term period, as well as high blood pressure.
Meanwhile, DME can develop from retinopathy and means the eye’s macula, which provides central vision, becomes damaged. It can often be treated with laser surgery or with injections called anti-VEGF drugs (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor).

The findings appear online in the journal Optometry and Vision Sciences.

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