Diabetes and high blood pressure increase risk of serious eye disease among blacks
SAN FRANCISCO – People of African ancestry who have high blood pressure and high blood plasma glucose levels are at increased risk for diabetic retinopathy, and those with diabetes and high blood pressure are at increased risk for elevated intraocular pressure. These are the conclusions of two studies appearing in the May issue of Ophthalmology, the clinical journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Eye M.D. Association.
In the first study, one of the Barbados eye studies, 410 people with diabetes, ages 40 to 84, were assessed four years after the initial examination. Over 30 percent of those without diabetic retinopathy at the beginning of the study had developed this condition at follow-up. Their risk of retinopathy increased with higher systolic blood pressure and indicators of poor diabetes control, such as elevated glycated hemoglobin levels.
In the second study, which was also based on a follow-up of the Barbados Eye Study and included about 3,000 people, investigators assessed the relationship among diabetes, hypertension, and intraocular pressure. Over a four-year period, intraocular pressure increased by 2.5 mmHg. Diabetes and hypertension were related to the elevation in intraocular pressure.
M. Cristina Leske, MD, MPH, of Stony Brook University School of Medicine, and the lead author of the first study and co-author of the second study, said, "Hypertension and diabetes increase the risk of diabetic retinopathy and are related to longitudinal increases in intraocular pressure, which is a major risk factor for open-angle glaucoma. Educational and medical interventions to improve control of elevated blood pressure and blood sugar status, as well as timely eye examinations, have the potential to decrease visual loss from diabetic retinopathy."
Academy spokesperson Richard Bensinger, MD, of Seattle, said, "These studies show the strong connection between the development of diabetic retinopathy and risks such as poorly controlled blood sugar and elevated blood pressure. This confirms what we have known about this population, but provides a more precise definition. The studies reinforce the importance of taking into account the various risk factors when treating patients in this population."
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons--Eye M.D.s--with more than 27,000 members worldwide. For more information about eye health care, visit the Academy's partner Web site, the Medem Network, at http://www.medem.com. To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the Academy's Web site at http://www.aao.org.