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November 1989

Diabetic Neuropathy and Braille Ability

Arch Neurol. 1989;46(11):1179-1181. doi:10.1001/archneur.1989.00520470033022

• Thirty-five individuals with visual impairment due to diabetic retinopathy underwent neurologic examination with special emphasis on two-point discrimination and nerve conduction studies to determine whether concomitant peripheral neuropathy would interfere with their ability to read braille. Twenty-two individuals with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (9 men and 13 women) and 13 with non— insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (4 men and 9 women) were evaluated. All had peripheral neuropathy; there were 4 with stage 1, 29 with stage 2, and 2 with stage 3 neuropathy. Two-point discriminatory ability appeared to be relatively well-preserved and at least 25 of the 35 individuals were able to learn to read standard or jumbo braille. Individuals with abnormalities in two-point discrimination (>5 mm) were found to have abnormalities in braille reading. Individuals with visual impairment due to diabetes should not be discouraged from undertaking braille on the basis of apparent polyneuropathy.