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16-02-2011 | Diabetes | Article

Diabetes may increase risk for early age-related macular degeneration


Free abstract

MedWire News: Study results suggest that Korean individuals with diabetes may be at increased risk for developing early age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD is the third leading cause of sight loss worldwide in people aged 50 years and above. A link between Type 2 diabetes and late-stage AMD has been suggested, but whether early-stage AMD is also associated with diabetes is less clear.

To investigate this further, Belong Cho (Seoul National University Hospital, Korea) and co-workers assessed the presence of early AMD in 3008 adults aged 50-80 years, who were attending a general health check. Of these, 315 had Type 2 diabetes.

Early AMD, defined as the presence of soft drusen or retinal epithelium depigmentation alone, or soft drusen in combination with retinal epithelium hyperpigmentation in the absence of late AMD, was detected in 88 individuals.

As reported in the Archives of Ophthalmology, following adjustment for age, gender, current smoking, obesity, and the presence of hypertension, patients with Type 2 diabetes were a significant 87% more likely to have early AMD than nondiabetics.

Cho and colleagues say that the underlying mechanisms that explain the association between diabetes and early AMD are unknown, but suggest that changes in the function and structure of the retinal pigment epithelium, Bruch membrane, and the choroidal circulation could be responsible.

They also suggest that the presence of atherosclerosis and higher than normal levels of inflammation could play a causative role.

"Confirmation of these findings in other studies, including larger and prospective studies, and a better understanding of the biological process underlying the present findings are needed," says the team.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Helen Albert

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