(HealthDay News) — Some subpopulations of patients with diabetes carry a higher burden of diabetic macular edema (DME), according to a study published online August 14 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, from University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,038 participants (aged ≥40 years) in the 2005–2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey with diabetes and valid fundus photographs.

The researchers found that 55 participants had DME, for an overall weighted prevalence of 3.8% or approximately 746,000 persons in the U.S. 2010 population (aged ≥40 years). Prevalence of DME did not vary by age or sex. The odds of having DME were higher for non-Hispanic blacks than for non-Hispanic whites (odds ratio [OR], 2.64; P=0.02). DME prevalence was also associated with elevated levels of glycosylated hemoglobin A1c (OR, 1.47 for each 1%; P<0.001) and longer duration of diabetes (OR, 8.51 for ≥10 vs. <10 years; P<0.001).

“Given recent treatment advances in reducing vision loss and preserving vision in persons with DME, it is imperative that all persons with diabetes receive early screening; this recommendation is even more important for those at higher risk for DME,” the authors write.

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Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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