Based on projected increases in the prevalence of diabetes, the number of people with diabetes-related retinal disease, with glaucoma and with cataracts is estimated to increase significantly by 2050, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.
Diabetic retinopathy (damage to the small blood vessels in the retina) is the leading cause of blindness among American working-age adults with approximately $500 million spent on direct medical costs for diabetic retinopathy in 2004, according to background information in the article. "People with diabetes mellitus also have a higher prevalence of other eye diseases, such as cataracts and glaucoma, than the general population," the authors write. "Vision loss related to eye disease among people with diabetes is an important disability that threatens independence and can lead to depression, reduced mobility and reduced quality of life."
Jinan B. Saaddine, M.D., M.P.H., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues used published data from the 2004 National Health Interview Survey and the U.S. Census Bureau to estimate the number, age, sex and race/ethnicity of Americans with diabetes that will have the following eye conditions in the year 2050: diabetic retinopathy, vision threatening diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.