Blacks With Type 1 Diabetes Have High Risk Of Vision Loss

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Blacks with type 1 diabetes have a high risk of losing vision in atleast one eye, according to a study published in the August issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, Reuters reports.Poor blood sugar control has been known to increase the risk of losingvision, according to study lead author Monique Roy of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

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Visionloss has been studied in whites with type 1 diabetes, but Roy andco-author Joan Sunice were unaware of any large-scale studies on thecondition in blacks. For the study, researchers over a period of sixyears followed 500 blacks with type 1 diabetes to determine the rate ofvision loss and risk factors associated with the condition. Researchersfound that 4.3% of participants developed vision loss, which wasdefined as visual acuity of 20/40 or worse, in their better eye andthat 0.6% became blind, which is considered 20/200 or worse, in theirbetter eye.

An additional 9.8% of participants developeddouble vision, defined as the loss of 15 or more letters on the eyechart between the first and second visit, in their better eye, and13.5% showed a doubling of vision in either eye, which is considered"particularly high," according to the study. Besides poor blood sugarcontrol, older age, high protein levels and diabetic retinopathy arepredictors of vision loss over six years, the study found. Roysuggested increased monitoring of retinopathy and kidney disease tohelp prevent the severity of vision loss.

Roy added, "SinceAfrican-Americans with diabetes as a whole have poor blood sugarcontrol ... a major effort to improve glucose control must be made bypatients and physicians taking care of such patients" (Hendry, Reuters,8/21).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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