Ophthalmologists Should Join with other Clinicians in Battle Against Diabetes

The prevalence of diabetes has doubled in the past decade, and the resulting increases in diabetes-related eye disease pose a new challenge to eye specialists, according to an editorial in the March issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Two editorials and a research article in the issue focus on ophthalmologic implications of metabolic diseases, and are being published in conjunction with a JAMA theme issue on diabetes, obesity and their comorbidities.

The March issue of Archives of Neurology, along with the April issues of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Archives of Dermatology and Archives of Surgery, will also focus on this theme.

"By 2050, the number of Americans with diabetic retinopathy [affecting blood vessels in the retina] is projected to triple from 5.5 million to 16 million, and the number of those with vision-threatening retinopathy will increase from 1.2 million to 3.4 million," write Thomas W. Gardner, M.D., M.S., and Robert A. Gabbay, M.D., Ph.D., of Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pa., in the first editorial. "The number of cataracts will increase by 235 percent and glaucoma among elderly Hispanic individuals with diabetes will increase 12-fold."

To effectively treat these conditions, ophthalmologists must go beyond surgically treating late-stage eye disease and work with other clinicians to help patients control their diabetes before eye complications worsen, Dr. Gardner and Dr. Gabbay note.

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"Ophthalmologists have a unique opportunity to influence patient behavior because vision loss is one of the most feared complications of diabetes. Helping patients make the connection between their eye disease and the ABCs of diabetes (A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol) can motivate them to improve their health."

Arch Ophthalmol. 2009;127[3]:328-329

This work was supported by grants from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, American Diabetes Association and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Dr. Gardner is a Jack and Nancy Turner Professor and Dr. Gabbay is a Laurence M. Demers Career Development Professor.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals