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Health Team

Vision loss rising along with diabetes

Posted December 11, 2012

Millions of Americans need glasses to help them see. However, a growing number of American adults, including Jerry Fishman, have vision loss that glasses can't correct.

“It was becoming almost impossible for me to see anything clearly,” Fishman said.

He was diagnosed with diabetes and diabetic retinopathy – and he's not alone.

"In working-age Americans, it’s diabetic eye disease that is a predominant cause of retinal disease," said Dr. David S. Friedman of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Researchers looked at data from people participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Those living below the poverty line had almost twice the rate of vision loss as others.

Education and insurance status also play a role.

Vision loss rising along with diabetes Vision loss rising along with diabetes

“The only major risk factor for vision loss that increased over time was diabetes lasting 10 or more years,” Friedman said. “The prevalence of diabetes is increasing, and people are having it longer because they are having it at a younger age."

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also showed that uncorrectable vision loss increased by 20 percent over the study period. Among those 20 to 40 years of age, it increased by 40 percent.

“If we continue at the pace that we're going, we're going to see a lot of working-age Americans with vision loss related to diabetes," Friedman said.

After Fishman was diagnosed, he changed his diet and lifestyle. And he’s making great progress.

"I've made my mind up that it's going to get better,” he said.

6 Comments

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  • berob99 Dec 21, 2:05 p.m.

    Diabetes cannot be cured, only managed and controlled.

  • kenshi Dec 19, 12:06 p.m.

    @lindaburton2004... what NCishome said is correct. There really is no cure for either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, however with treatment of careful diet and proper exercise one may not need any drug treatment with type 2. This is not indicative of being cured because as soon as you go off your diet and exercise the diabetes symptoms will be there. Also there are people with type 2 that diet and exercise alone will not be sufficient to keep glucose levels normal.

  • IPayYouPay Dec 14, 3:17 p.m.

    NCishome: Type 2 is treated with diet and exercise (hence, weight loss with exercise). Once under control, I know personally, medications can be taken away. Type 1 is not.

  • pedsRN Dec 13, 12:49 p.m.

    Type 2 Diabetes can be controlled by diet, exercise, & weight loss(as most type 2 diabetics are overweight), but once damage has been done by diabetes, that damage doesn't go away.
    The Duke Eye Center has retinal specialists that can do wonders with diabetic retinopathy patients.

  • NCishome Dec 12, 10:40 a.m.

    jacamoe - I do not agree with your comment that T2 has a cure. Once a diabetic always one. T1 or T2 you ALWAYS have to be aware of what you eat and excercise. Along with all the other damage that comes with being diabetic.

  • jacamoe Dec 12, 8:31 a.m.

    The first sign to that told me something was wrong was my vision got blurry, almost overnight. I was diagnosed with Type 1 adult onset juvenile diabetes two months later. It has been seven years now and my vision, once on insulin, seemed to get back to normal. We need more research on juvenile diabetes because there is already a cure for Type 2. It just requires a lot of self discipline. Once T2 diabetics let theirs go for a long period of time without taking strict care of themselves , they become insulin dependent as well. However, Type 2 can be cured by strict diet and excersise.