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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
January 4, 2012

Self-Reported Visual Impairment Among Persons With Diagnosed Diabetes—United States, 1997-2010

JAMA. 2012;307(1):25-27. doi:

MMWR. 2011;60:1549-1553

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Diabetes can lead to visual impairment (VI) and blindness.1 However, early detection and treatment of many common eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, can reduce the risk for developing VI.1 Surveillance of VI among persons with diabetes is important for evaluating the effectiveness of efforts to reduce VI and other complications of diabetes. To examine trends in the prevalence of self-reported VI among adults (persons aged ≥18 years) with diagnosed diabetes in the United States and to assess reported access to eye-care providers, CDC analyzed 1997-2010 data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). This report describes the results of that analysis, which indicated that although the number of adults with diagnosed diabetes reporting VI increased, the age-adjusted percentage of adults with diagnosed diabetes who reported VI declined significantly, from 23.7% in 1997 to 16.7% in 2010. During this 14-year period, age-adjusted VI prevalence declined significantly among most categories of adults with diabetes: men, women, whites, Hispanics, those with some college or higher education, and those diagnosed with diabetes for ≥3 years. Prevalence also declined among those aged ≥45 years. The percentage of adults with diagnosed diabetes and self-reported VI who reported having consulted an eye-care provider in the past year remained constant at approximately 63%. Continued efforts are needed to sustain and improve the declining trends in self-reported VI and to increase rates of recommended eye examinations in the population with diabetes.