Diabetes linked to increased risk of cataract in middle age

Jack Woodfield
Tue, 06 Feb 2018
Diabetes linked to increased risk of cataract in middle age
Cataract is twice as likely to develop in people with diabetes compared to those without the condition, researchers suggest.

Both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are closely linked with eye conditions, such as cataract and diabetic retinopathy, which is why regular eye screenings are so important. Old age too is linked to cataract, one of the main causes of sight loss around the world.

People with diabetes can reduce the risk of eye complications such as cataract by keeping good control of blood glucose levels, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

There is currently no scientifically approved preventative treatment for cataract, but it is possible to slow progression down by seeking treatment as soon as symptoms occur. Attending an eye screening at least once each year helps your health team check for cataract and provide early treatment if there is.

As part of this research, scientists at Anglia Ruskin University's Vision and Eye Research Unit, reviewed the medical records of more than 50,000 people with diabetes from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink.

The findings suggested cataract - a clouding of the eye's lens - developed at an overall rate of 20.4 per cent per 1,000 people with diabetes. The rate among the general population was calculated at half that at 10.8 per cent. They also found the risk became greater between the ages of 45 and 54.

Co-author of the study Rupert Bourne, professor of ophthalmology at Anglia Ruskin University's Vision and Eye Research Unit, said: "The report has shown that having diabetes doubles your risk of being diagnosed with a cataract, and that this risk is six times higher if a diabetic patient has significant diabetic retinal disease, called diabetic maculopathy.

"This is only the second such report on cataract incidence in the UK's diabetic patients since the 1980s and it further emphasises the importance of the NHS Diabetic Eye Screening programme in early identification and treatment of diabetic eye disease to prevent sight loss."

It is recommended anyone who starts to suffer blurred clouded or dim vision, who find they have become more sensitive to light or are struggling to see well at night, should seek help from an eye specialist.

The findings have been published in the journal Eye.
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