A twelve-year study conducted by medical researchers in Columbia, MO, has found that individuals with child-onset type I diabetes who maintained near-normal blood glucose levels were less likely to develop serious eye disease later in life. The results of this study give hope that well-controlled blood sugar levels will help to maintain healthy eyes. A report of this study was released by the American Academy of Ophthalmology in November 1992.
The researcher studied 420 individuals with child-onset type I diabetes. Of the subjects studied, 11 developed proliferative retinopathy, the most serious form of diabetic eye disease. All 11 had chronic high blood glucose levels. It was found that the higher the average blood sugar was, the earlier diabetic eye disease set in.
Half of the study subjects developed early retinal disease after 9 years of diabetes. Retinal disease was present in all subjects who had diabetes for 20 years or more.
The authors of the report advise that tight blood glucose control needs to begin early on in the lives of children with diabetes in order to ensure that healthy eyes can be maintained into later years.