Diabetic Retinopathy News
New Diagnoses of Diabetes Falling Among American Adults, Says CDC
December 2015 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported a decrease in the number of new diabetes cases during the past few years, which means we may also see a drop in diabetic retinopathy incidence at some point.
In 2009, the CDC's records showed a total of 1.7 million new cases of diabetes, versus 1.4 million in 2014. The total number of diabetes cases is still rising in the United States (in 2014 there were 22 million total cases, versus 10 million in 1997).
But the slowdown in new cases may point to healthier lifestyles and nutrition beginning to take hold among Americans.
Incidence of diagnosed diabetes continues to be higher among those with less education [chart] and among certain races/ethnicities [chart]. But both of those measures are also indicating diagnosis declines.
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FDA Approves Eylea for Treatment of Diabetic Eye Disease
August 2014 Americans with diabetes have a new option for the treatment of eye complications from their condition. The FDA has approved Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' Eylea (aflibercept) ocular injections for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME).
Eylea is the first vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor approved for the treatment of DME that does not require ongoing monthly eye injections. Recommended dosing of Eylea is one injection every eight weeks after five initial monthly injections.
Approval of Eylea for treatment of DME was based on one-year results data from two studies of 862 patients that compared Eylea injections with laser surgery for the condition. Patients in the Eylea groups (one with monthly dosing and the other with injections given at eight-week intervals) gained, on average, the ability to read approximately two additional lines on an eye chart, compared with almost no change in the laser group.
Safety of the two procedures was comparable, and Eylea was equally effective when administered every two months or with the more frequent monthly injections.
This is the third eye condition for which Eylea has gained FDA approval. The drug previously was approved for the treatment of neovascular ("wet") macular degeneration in 2011, and for macular edema following central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO) in 2012.
Majority of Americans Not Aware of Eye Health
Dangers From Diabetes
January 2014 Despite recent advances in prevention and treatment of most vision loss attributed to diabetes, a new study shows that fewer than half of Americans with damage to their eyes from diabetes are aware of the link between the disease and visual impairment, and only six in 10 had their eyes fully examined in the year leading up to the study.
With more obesity has come more diabetes among Americans. Unfortunately, many don't know that poorly controlled diabetes can cause sight-damaging diabetic macular edema.
The online research, conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins and published in JAMA Ophthalmology, also found that nearly half of those with diabetes and eye damage had not visited an eye doctor in that same time period.
High blood sugar levels associated with poorly controlled diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue lining the back wall of the eye. This can cause poor blood flow or leaking of fluids from these blood vessels, which brings on swelling of the retina.
The condition, known as diabetic macular edema (DME), can cripple central vision and the ability to see detailed images.
Left untreated for a year or longer, macular edema can lead to permanent vision loss.
For the study, researchers used data collected between 2005 and 2008 from Americans enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Among the 798 people over the age of 40 with a self-reported diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, 238 had diabetic retinopathy without DME, while 48 had DME.
Only 44.7 percent of those with DME said their doctor had told them their eyes had been affected by diabetes, or that they had diabetic retinopathy.
Furthermore, 46.7 percent of diabetic individuals with DME said they either had never visited a diabetes nurse educator, dietician or nutritionist about their diabetes or that their last visit was more than a year ago. And only 59.7 percent said they had had a dilated eye exam within the past year.
According to the National Eye Institute, diabetics who undergo a dilated eye exam once a year could reduce their risk of severe vision loss by 95 percent.
Google Developing Contact Lens That Tests Glucose Levels in Diabetes Patients
January 2014 Google has been testing a smart contact lens that can measure glucose levels in tears and help diabetics better control their disease, according to a post published on the company's official blog.
The device contains a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. A tiny pinhole in the lens lets tear fluid from the surface of the eye seep into the glucose sensor. Current prototypes of the device can take a glucose level reading once every second, Google says.
The project is the latest invention to emerge from the company's Google X unit, which works on long-term, risky new technology that may never become commercially successful but has the potential to change the way people live in dramatic ways.
Google says it went public with the contact lens project at an early stage because it's looking for expert partners who could bring the technology to market in the future.
The company says it has done "multiple studies" to test the comfort and functionality of the lens and explore how tear glucose correlates with blood glucose, particularly in people with diabetes. While Google is in discussions with the FDA about the lenses, the company also notes there's more work ahead to turn this technology into something that can be brought to market.
Older Diabetes Patients Neglect Eye Care
December 2013 People with diabetes are at increased risk for eye problems, but a study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham finds that certain types of diabetes patients who go to public hospital clinics have low usage of eye care services, such as eye exams.
The study team looked at nearly 900 diabetes patients who were seen in a county hospital clinic. Of those patients, whose average age was 52, nearly 62 percent were women, about three-quarters were black and about 61 percent were poor.
Only about 33 percent of them had undergone an eye exam within one year and 45 percent had had a checkup within two years, the researchers said. Patients older than 65 were more likely to receive eye care than patients younger than 40, according to the study, which was published online in December 2013 in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.
Annual Eye Exams Are Lacking Among Diabetics, and Here's Why
November 2013 Why don't adults with diabetes seek the annual eye care they need?
Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta used data from the multi-state 2006 to 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to identify respondents who had not sought eye care in the previous 12 months.
The researchers found that, among adults diagnosed with diabetes, 23.5 percent neglected to have recommended annual eye examinations.
"No need" and "cost or lack of insurance" were the most commonly reported reasons for not receiving eye care in the preceding 12 months, according to the study report published in Diabetes Care.
Diabetes Increases Dry Eye Risk
July 2013 If you have diabetes, you are at greater risk for dry eyes, according to a new study.
Researchers in China analyzed previously published studies that evaluated the tears of adults with and without diabetes. Those with diabetes had significantly lower scores for both tear film stability and tear secretion and also had lower corneal sensitivity than those without diabetes.
The study authors concluded that people with diabetes have reduced tear functions and are at higher risk of dry eyes.
Also, patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) a serious complication of diabetes that causes damage to blood vessels in the retina and can lead to blindness are at even greater risk of impaired tear functions, they said.
A full report of the study was published online by the journal Acta Ophthalmologica in June.
Moving to Adulthood Increases Eye and Systemic
Health Risks for Type 1 Diabetics
March 2013 Young people with Type 1 diabetes tend to move from pediatric care to adult care at age 20 to 21, and when this happens, the amount of control over their diabetes tends to drop, says a study by UCLA researchers.
He may be ready for college,
but is he ready to take control
of his Type 1 diabetes?
A seeming result is that they are 2.5 times more likely to have chronically high blood glucose levels, which in turn puts them at higher risk for vision loss from eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure later in life.
In Type 1 diabetes (sometimes called juvenile diabetes), the body doesn't produce insulin and can't convert sugar and starches into energy.
It is usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, and poor control over the condition when the child leaves home to begin college or work can sometimes be an issue.
In the UCLA study, the type of insurance held made no difference, but when patients were older, had lower baseline blood-glucose levels or had parents with lower education levels, they were more successful in moving to adult care.
A report of the study appeared in the April issue of Pediatrics.
Please click here for more diabetic retinopathy news from 2011 and 2012.
[Page updated June 20, 2016]