Alternative methods of treating vision diseases may reduce the risk of blindness in type 2 diabetes patients, according to findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
By improving blood sugar level control, researchers may be able to slow the development of diabetic retinopathy, which is retina damage caused by long-term diabetes.
In order to better understand this vision disorder, investigators enrolled 10,251 type 2 diabetes patients in the the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes Eye Study. Participants were selected because they were at a high risk of suffering heart problems.
The team used treatments that could improve cardiovascular health in diabetes patients, including control of blood sugar, blood pressure and good and bad cholesterol in the blood.
The results showed that using these methods over the course of four years could slow diabetic retinopathy progression by approximately 34 percent.
Walter T. Ambrosius, lead author of the study, stated that cardiovascular problems in diabetics can “result in problems with the kidneys and amputation of toes and feet, and the only place that you can directly observe the microvasculature is in the back of the eyes.” He added that “the eyes [are] potentially an indicator of what is happening in other parts of the body.”
Approximately 1.6 million Americans aged 20 years and older are diagnosed with diabetes each year, the American Diabetes Association reports.