Undiagnosed Diabetes and Related Eye Disease in Mexican-Americans A Call for Increased Detection
- The rate of diabetes in the Mexican-American community age 40 years and older was 20 percent, rising from 10 percent in those aged 40-49, to 32 percent in those aged 70-79. This high prevalence of diabetes among Hispanics of Mexican origin &@151; generally 2-2½ times higher compared to non-Hispanic Whites is similar to that reported by other studies.
- The rate of diabetic retinopathy in those with diabetes was 48 percent, a number similar to that of non-Hispanic Whites. Prior to the survey, there had been conflicting reports about the rate of diabetic retinopathy in Mexican-Americans with diabetes. In this survey, it is estimated that one-third of Mexican-Americans with diabetic retinopathy could have delayed or prevented eye complications with early detection and control of their diabetes.
- The rate of diabetic retinopathy increased with higher blood sugar levels and longer duration of diabetes.
The study called Proyecto VER (Vision Evaluation and Research) assessed visual impairment in a population-based sample of 4500 Mexican-Americans age 40 and older living in Tucson and Nogales, Arizona. Proyecto VER was designed to address the prevalence and causes of visual impairment including diabetic retinopathy in this population group. In the United States, the Mexican-American population is the second largest minority group, and if current trends continue, will become the largest minority group during this century.
About 16 million people in the United States have diabetes, the most common cause of blindness, kidney failure, and amputations in adults. One-third of people with diabetes do not know they have it. Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for about 90 percent of diabetes in the US, is most common in people who are overweight, inactive, over age 40, and have a family history of diabetes. The disease is also more common in minorities; African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Native Americans, and some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at especially high risk.
People with Type 2 diabetes first develop insulin resistance, a disorder in which muscle, fat, and liver cells do not use insulin properly. At first, the pancreas compensates by producing more insulin, but gradually its capacity to secrete insulin in response to meals falters, and the timing of insulin secretion is abnormal. After diabetes develops, pancreatic production of insulin continues to decline. Many people can control their blood glucose by following a careful diet and exercise program, losing excess weight, and taking oral medication. However, the longer a person has Type 2 diabetes, the more likely he or she will need insulin injections, either alone or combined with oral medications.
About 5-10 percent, or one million people with diabetes, have Type 1, formerly known as juvenile onset diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. This form of diabetes, which usually occurs in children and adults under age 30, develops when the body's immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.
The National Eye Institute (NEI), the Federal government's lead agency for vision research, is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under the US Department of Health and Human Services. NEI-supported research leads to sight-saving treatments and plays a key role in reducing visual impairment and blindness.
The NIH's National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) conducts and supports research, training, information dissemination and other programs aimed at reducing the disproportionately high incidence and prevalence of disease, burden of illness, and mortality experienced by certain American populations, including racial and ethnic minorities and other groups with disparate health status, such as the urban and rural poor.