By Colin Kenny, Editor – Diabetes Distilled
Investigators were aware that visual acuity loss is a common consequence of type 2 diabetes and may complicate diabetes self-management. They investigated patients with newly-diagnosed type 2 diabetes to assess whether loss of visual acuity was an independent risk factor for mortality in this population. They found that impaired visual acuity at diagnosis was associated with increased all-cause mortality, independent of other risk factors for mortality.
Researchers were aware that type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for increased mortality but wanted to investigate whether visual impairment was another possible factor. They interrogated a large Danish primary care database and examined patients who were 40 years or older whose visual acuity had been measured and recorded by an ophthalmologist. They identified 1,381 such patients from across 474 primary care practices.
Researchers followed up the patients for 6 years, recording the primary outcomes of all-cause mortality and diabetes-related mortality. They showed that poor visual acuity was associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality in patients who were newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This association remained similar or slightly weaker after controlling for possible confounding factors. They found that patients with visual impairment at diabetes diagnosis had more accidents, but the increase in the number of fractures and trauma did not explain the excess mortality.
Investigators concluded that visual impairment in patients newly diagnosed with diabetes is a predictor of mortality. Practitioners in primary care should consider screening patients with type 2 diabetes for impaired visual acuity soon after diagnosis.
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