African Americans Have Highest Rates of Diabetic Macular Edema

Rohit Varma, MD, MPH Grace and Emery Beardsley Professor and Chair USC Department of Ophthalmology Director, USC Eye Institute Associate Dean for Strategic Planning and Network Development Keck School of Medicine of USCMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rohit Varma, MD, MPH
Grace and Emery Beardsley Professor and Chair
USC Department of Ophthalmology
Director, USC Eye Institute
Associate Dean for Strategic Planning and Network Development
Keck School of Medicine of USC

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Varma: Our research demonstrates African-Americans bear a heavier burden of diabetic macular edema (DME), one of the leading causes of blindness in diabetic patients in the United States, compared to Non-Hispanic whites. The study points to a need for improved screening and greater attention to vision loss by clinicians and patients particularly those who are at high risk of developing diabetic macular edema.

Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Varma: We were surprised that our research showed that African-Americans have the highest rates of diabetic macular edema, when Hispanics tend to have the highest prevalence of diabetes.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Varma: We need to increase vision screening for diabetic macular edema among diabetics particularly this at higher risk. This is particularly important as we have excellent therapies that can reverse vision loss caused by diabetic macular edema. These therapies are usually covered by insurance. We hope that our research will help those in positions to influence policy to develop targeted screening on persons at high risk for developing this vision threatening condition. Clinicians should assess persons with diabetes for vision loss, especially those at high risk to developing diabetic macular edema. Patients with diabetes should do everything they can to control their glucose and monitor their own vision.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Varma: The next target for research in this area is examining barriers to access to eye care among African-Americans.

Citation:

Varma R, Bressler NM, Doan QV, et al. Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Diabetic Macular Edema in the United States. JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online August 14, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2014.2854.

 

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