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Hypertension predicts diabetic eye-disease risk.

Hypertension predicts diabetic eye-disease risk

Diabetics with high blood pressure face an increased risk of developing a potentially blinding eye disease called retinopathy, according to new research. The finding highlights the need for diabetics to get regular checkups and prompt treatment of hypertension.

Ronald Klein and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison studied 891 people with Type 1 diabetes, who need daily insulin injections to help them convert sugar to energy. The researchers found that systolic blood pressure, the maximum pressure obtained when the heart beats, was a "significant predictor" of whether these patients would go on to suffer from retinopathy.

Diabetics with the highest systolic blood pressure readings -- 135 millimeters mercury to 221 mm mercury -- at the start of the study were 1.8 times more likely to develop retinopathy during the next four years than those with systolic readings of 110 mm mercury and lower.

The study doesn't prove that hypertension causes retinopathy, but scientists speculate that very high blood pressure damages the tiny blood vessels of the eye. Retinopathy occurs when these vessles leak blood into the retina, causing blurry vision. Doctors can treat retinopathy in most diabetics. But in some advanced cases, the retina builds up scarr tissue, causing a permanent loss of vision.

About 1 million Americans have Type I or insulin-dependent diabetes, the most severe form of the disease.
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Title Annotation:Biomedicine
Author:Fackelmann, Kathy A.
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 17, 1989
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