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Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) Risk Higher for Non-Hispanic African American Patients

Aug 29, 2014

Risk is also higher for those who have had diabetes longer and have higher HbA1c levels…. 

About 347 million people worldwide have diabetes and diabetic eye disease is a leading cause of vision loss in patients between the ages of 20 and 74 years. Although the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy (DR) has been well characterized, less is known about the prevalence of DME among patients with diabetes in the United States.

Rohit Varma, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and colleagues conducted a study to estimate the prevalence of DME, as well as factors associated with the condition in adults. The study was an analysis of 1,038 patients age 40 and older with diabetes and valid eye photographs in the 2005 to 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Of the 1,038 individuals, 55 had DME, for an overall prevalence of 3.8 percent or approximately 746,000 people in the 2010 U.S. population age 40 or older. There were no differences in prevalence by age or sex. But other factors associated with higher odds of having the condition include being non-Hispanic black, having diabetes longer and having higher levels of hemoglobin A1c.

"Given recent treatment advances in reducing vision loss and preserving vison in DME, it is imperative that all persons with diabetes receive early screening; this recommendation is even more important for those individuals at higher risk for DME," the researchers concluded.

Practice Pearls:
  • African Americans have three times the risk of developing diabetic macular edema.
  • Diabetic macular edema is one of the leading causes of blindness
  • More than half of the diabetic population are not aware of the linkage between diabetes and vision loss.

Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Diabetic Macular Edema in the United States

JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online August 14, 2014.