Researchers discover that diabetes is no longer the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults in the U.K.

Date Posted: 03/20/2014

Researchers from Moorfields Eye Hospital in London recently published findings that revealed that diabetes-related eye disease is no longer the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults in England and Wales. Authors Gerald Liew, Michel Michaelides, and Catey Bunce, used certificate of vision impairment data to compare adults aged 16 to 64 years for the time periods of 1999 to 2000 and 2009 to 2010. They discovered that for the first time since 1963, hereditary retinal disorders have superseded diabetes-related eye disease as the leading cause of blindness for this group. The change has been attributed to the introduction of nationwide diabetic retinopathy screening programs in the United Kingdom and improved control of blood sugars in individuals with diabetes there. Anne Mackie, director of programs for the U.K. National Screening Committee, indicated that the Diabetic Eye Screening Program, which was launched in 2003 by the U.K. National Health Service (NHS), invites approximately 2.5 million people for screening every year. Of those, in 2013, more than 74,000 were referred to hospital eye services for further investigation, which resulted in around 4,600 diabetic patients being treated to help prevent vision loss. She said, "Before the launch of the diabetic eye program, less than half of the people with diabetes had regular eye screening . . . and many developed serious eye problems that could have been prevented." For more information, contact: Gerald Liew, Medical Retinal Service, Moorfields Eye Hospital, 162 City Road, London, EC1V 2PD, United Kingdom; e-mail: [Information for this piece was taken from the March 19, 2014, article, "Diabetes no longer the main cause of blindness"; and the February 14, 2014, BMJ Open article, "A comparison of the causes of blindness certifications in England and Wales in working age adults (16–64 years), 1999–2000 with 2009–2010," by Gerald Liew, Michel Michaelides, and Catey Bunce.]

Contact: Gerald Liew



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