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Social factors affecting eye problems due to diabetic retinopathy disease

The leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in working-age adults, diabetic retinopathy disease (DR), is associated with reduced quality of life, lower levels of psychosocial well-being, and an increased risk of other complications of diabetes and mortality. More than one-third of people have reported eye problems due to diabetic retinopathy when they have diabetes; almost 1 in 10 have vision-threatening DR (VTDR) levels, including proliferative DR (PDR) and diabetic macular edema (DME).

Like any other global public health chronic disease, social factors affect the patients of diabetic retinopathy disease, especially the ones having eye problems. According to the findings reported at the virtual American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting, public insurance, less knowledge and access to health care and services lead to the risk of developing eye problems due to diabetic retinopathy. The study suggested that Hispanic ethnicity and Medicaid insurance are the strongest associated factors for worsening visual acuity in the patients. 

Rishi Singh, MD, a staff surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute, associate professor of ophthalmology at Lerner College of Medicine,  said, “For future steps, we hope to look at improving physician understanding of the social determinants of health and barriers to care to improve the development of treatment plans that are appropriate for patients. We also would like to analyze education, smoking status, distance to clinics, and racial and ethnic biases in healthcare settings, as well as in the settings of antibiotic utilization, and to understand the opportunities for improving access to regular anti-VEGF injections for these populations most at risk. Finally, it’s important to characterize literacy amongst patient populations.”

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