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Many Patients With Diabetes Not Getting Needed Eye Care
Less than half of those with diabetic macular edema were told that their eyes were affected

MONDAY, Dec. 23, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Many people living with diabetes are not receiving the eye care they need to prevent visual impairment or blindness, according to a study published online Dec. 19 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Neil M. Bressler, M.D., from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Hospital in Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed data from participants of the 2005 to 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, aged 40 years or older, with diabetes mellitus and fundus photographs to characterize awareness of eye care and eye disease among those with diabetic macular edema (DME).

The researchers found that, in 2010, only 44.7 percent of those with DME reported being told by a physician that diabetes had affected their eyes or that they had retinopathy. Nearly half (46.7 percent) reported that they had never visited, or within the last year had not visited, a diabetes nurse educator, dietician, or nutritionist for their diabetes mellitus. More than half (59.7 percent) reported that they had received an eye examination with pupil dilation within the last year. Based on visual acuity at the initial examination, 28.7 percent of those with DME were visually impaired (visual acuity worse than 20/40 in the eye with DME), and 16.0 percent were visually impaired based on best-corrected visual acuity.

"Strategies to increase awareness are warranted, especially given the recent availability of improved therapies for DME," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the eye care and pharmaceutical industries, including Genentech/Roche, which funded the study.

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