America faces new devastating illness: blindness

As many as four out of every 10 diabetics over 40 in the United States have some form of the potentially devastating eye disorder called diabetic retinopathy, and more than 8 percent of them could face vision loss.

That grim assessment comes from a new collection of estimates, perhaps the most extensive ever released, which also predicts that a third of those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes by age 30 are also at the same risk.

The good news is that doctors can usually treat the disease effectively if it's caught in its beginning stages, and an annual eye exam is the place to start, experts said.

"The problem is that in that early phase, you don't know that anything is wrong. You see fine," said Dr. Frederick Ferris, a clinical director at the National Institutes of Health. "Unless you have regular eye exams, you will miss the best time to intervene. That's the big tragedy," inform

Americans are increasingly susceptible to blindness as they grow older, with three out of 100 of those over 40 years old suffering impaired vision and blacks at particular risk, researchers said on Monday.

In the first study in decades to estimate the prevalence of vision problems among Americans, a group of researchers concluded that 937,000 Americans older than 40 were blind in 2000.

An additional 2.4 million people, or 2.8 percent of the 120 million Americans over age 40, suffered diminished vision, leaving them unable to drive a vehicle or perform other tasks.

The report found that blacks over age 40 were three times more likely to go blind than whites, with the causes of vision loss among many blacks considered more preventable, report

According to one in 12 diabetes sufferers over the age of 40 has an eye condition that can cause blindness, specialists said yesterday.

There are 1.4 million people in Britain with diabetes, three in every 100, plus an estimated million who are undiagnosed. New research suggests that many may also have undetected eye problems.

Diabetes is linked with being overweight and experts say the increase of diabetes in children is related to the epidemic of obesity.

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