An increase in vision problems that cannot be corrected with lenses may be related to an uptick in diabetes rates over the same period, researchers said Tuesday.
The team, led by Dr. David S. Friedman of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, gathered survey and physical examination data collected from 9,471 U.S. adults over the age of 20 in 1999 to 2002 and from another set of 10,480 Americans in 2005 to 2008. The researchers calculated that rates of prevalence of “non-refractive visual impairment” increased 21% in the overall study population, from 1.4% in 1999-2002 to 1.7% in 2005-2008. Rates increased 40% among non-Latino whites ages 20 to 39 in the same period.
After analyzing a series of variables, including age, sex, race, schooling, income, obesity, diabetes diagnosis and amount of time since diabetes diagnosis, as well as visual impairment, they found that most of the risk factors for visual impairment had decreased or remained stable between the two time periods. The exception was prevalence of diabetes diagnosed at least 10 years previously, which climbed.
This “is consistent with the hypothesis that increasing prevalence of diabetes among younger U.S. residents, wth subsequent increasing duration of diabetes, may be related to worsening vision,” the authors wrote, in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.