Researchers Predict Number of Americans with Diabetic Retinopathy Will Soar By 2050

The number of Americans with diabetic retinopathy is expected to increase from 5.5 million to 16 million by the year 2050.  Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the retina caused by complications of diabetes, which can eventually lead to blindness.

Researchers used data from the National Health Interview Survey and the US Census Bureau to project the number of people with diabetic retinopathy (DR), vision-threatening DR (VTDR), glaucoma, and cataracts among Americans 40 years or older with diagnosed diabetes mellitus for the years 2005-2050.

Study results showed:

  • the number of Americans 40 years or older with DR will triple from 5.5 million in 2005 to 16.0 million in 2050
  • the number of Americans 40 years or older with VTDR will also triple, from 1.2 million in 2005 to 3.4 million in 2050
  • increases among those 65 years or older will be more pronounced (2.5 million to 9.9 million for DR and 0.5 million to 1.9 million for VTDR)
  • the number of cataract cases among whites and blacks 40 years or older with diabetes will likely increase 235% by 2050, and 
  • the number of glaucoma cases among Hispanics with diabetes 65 years or older will increase 12-fold.

Study authors stress the importance of efforts to prevent diabetes as well as to optimally manage diabetes and its complications.

SOURCE:  Projection of Diabetic Retinopathy and Other Major Eye Diseases Among People With Diabetes Mellitus, Saaddine, et al, Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126(12):1740-1747.