Manage Blood Glucose Levels to Decrease Risk of Retinopathy

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2011-02-15 14:00

Retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. Although non-diabetics can develop retinopathy, those with higher blood glucose levels get the disease more often and usually in a more severe form. As February is “Save Your Vision Month”, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is urging all to take steps to preserve their eyesight.

Poorly Controlled Blood Sugar Leads to Vascular Complications

High blood glucose levels are associated with microvascular complications. Fragile, abnormal blood vessels can develop and leak blood into the center of the eye, blurring vision. Also, fluid can lead into the center of the macula, causing it to swell. In addition to retinopathy, those with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing cataract or glaucoma.

Pascale Massin MD PhD of Hopital Lariboisiere in Paris and colleagues examined the retinas of 700 men and women, average age 52, which were enrolled in an epidemiological study of insulin resistance syndrome. Over the preceding nine years, the participants had their fasting plasma glucose levels and hemoglobin A1C tracked. During that time 235 had been diagnosed as diabetic, 227 had impaired fasting glucose levels, and 238 had blood glucose within normal limits.

A total of 44 of the participants were classified as having retinopathy – 38 of which had higher than normal glucose levels 10 years prior.

Read: Diabetic Vision Problems on the Decline

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The authors propose that physicians use a fasting glucose level of 108 mg/dL and HbA1c of 6.0 or higher to define those who are at a greater risk for retinopathy. The lowering of the standard would include not only diagnosed diabetics, but also those who have prediabetes, a condition of higher than normal blood glucose that usually precedes Type 2 diabetes.

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