Study Suggests Patients with Diabetic Macular Edema Not Getting Prompt Care

Less than half of adults with diabetic macular edema (DME, a thickening of the center of the retina that can cause blindness) have been told by a physician that diabetes has affected their eyes and fewer than 60 percent reported receiving an eye examination with pupil dilation in the last year, according to a report published by JAMA Ophthalmology, a JAMA Network publication.

DME can lead to substantial vision loss if it is left untreated for a year or more so physicians need to ensure that patients with diabetes are aware that the disease can affect their eyes. Treatment for DME has improved dramatically in recent years but prompt diagnosis is critical, according to the study background.

Neil M. Bressler, M.D., editor of JAMA Ophthalmology and of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Hospital, Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to examine eye care and the awareness of eye disease among patients (40 years and older) with diabetes.

Researchers found that 44.7 percent of adults with DME reported being told by physicians that diabetes had affected their eyes or that they had retinopathy; 46.7 percent reported visiting a diabetes nurse educator, dietician or nutritionist for their diabetes more than one year ago or never; and 59.7 percent reported receiving an eye examination with pupil dilation in the last year, according to the results.

“Our results suggest that many individuals with DME report not receiving prompt diabetes-related or eye-related care, although many of these individuals are at risk of substantial visual loss that could be lessened or eliminated with appropriate care,” the authors conclude.

(JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online December 19, 2013. doi:10.1001/.jamaopthalmol.2013.6426.