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Clin Geriatr Med. 1990 Nov;6(4):827-37.

Ocular problems in older Americans with diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, University of Wisconsin, Madison.


Data from the Wisconsin Epidemiologic Study of Diabetic Retinopathy from persons with diabetes of older onset whose average age was 65.4 years indicate that 9.9% of the men and 13.3% of the women had some degree of visual impairment, and 1.4% of men and 1.7% of women were legally blind (with an visual acuity of 20/200 or worse in the better eye). Poorer visual acuity was strongly associated with increasing duration of diabetes, but age was also an important factor, with rates of legal blindness increasing markedly after the seventh decade of life in groups of any duration. Conditions responsible for legal blindness were diabetic retinopathy or maculopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. Incidence of blindness 4 years after the initial evaluation was related to insulin use, younger age at examination, longer duration of diabetes, and more severe retinopathy at baseline. Worsening of vision was related to higher levels of glycosylated hemoglobin and the presence of macular edema on diabetic retinopathy at baseline. These data indicate that there is a high prevalence of ocular problems among people with diabetes of older onset. The practitioner should suggest to these patients that, soon after the diagnosis of diabetes, they have an ophthalmologic evaluation to determine whether asymptomatic problems are present. This action may lead to timely intervention to prevent loss of vision in some patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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