HEALTH

Latinos at great risk of developing diabetes-related vision issues, study finds

BY Michael Johnsen

BETHESDA, Md. Latinos have higher rates of developing visual impairment, blindness, diabetic eye disease and cataracts than non-Hispanic whites, researchers that were part of the "Los Angeles Latino Eye Study" have found. According to a press release issued by the National Eye Institute on Saturday, these are the first estimates of visual impairment and eye disease development in Latinos.

"This study showed that Latinos develop certain vision conditions at different rates than other ethnic groups," stated Rohit Varma, principal investigator of LALES and director of the Ocular Epidemiology Center at the Doheny Eye Institute, University of Southern California. "The burden of vision loss and eye disease on the Latino community is increasing as the population ages, and many eye diseases are becoming more common."

LALES began in 2000 as the nation’s largest and most comprehensive study of vision in Latinos. In the current phase of LALES, researchers examined more than 4,600 Latinos four years after they initially enrolled in the study to determine the development of new eye disease and the progression of existing conditions, including visual impairment, blindness, diabetic eye disease, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts.

Participants were mainly of Mexican descent, age 40 years and older, and living in the city of La Puente, Los Angeles County, Calif. Study results were published in four papers in the May issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

"These data have significant public health implications and present a challenge for eye care providers to develop programs to address the burden of eye disease in Latinos," stated NEI director Paul Sieving. "NEI has a strong record of commitment to educating the Latino community and healthcare providers about eye diseases through its National Eye Health Education Program, and will continue to make this a priority."

LALES researchers found that over the four-year interval, Latinos developed visual impairment and blindness at the highest rate of any ethnic group in the country, when compared with estimates from other U.S. population-based studies. Overall, nearly 3% of Latinos developed visual impairment and 0.3% developed blindness in both eyes, with older adults impacted more frequently. Of Latinos age 80 years and older, 19.4% became visually impaired, and 3.8% became blind in both eyes.

U.S. Latinos also were more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy than non-Hispanic whites. Over the four-year period, 34% of Latinos who had diabetes developed diabetic retinopathy, with Latinos ages 40 to 59 years having the highest rate. Though increasing age did not play a role, Latinos with a longer duration of diabetes were more likely to develop the disease. In fact, 42% of Latinos with diabetes for more than 15 years developed diabetic retinopathy. Also, among participants who had diabetic retinopathy at the beginning of the study, 39% showed worsening of the disease four years later.

 

Researchers found that Latinos who already had visual impairment, blindness, or diabetic retinopathy in one eye when they began the study had very high rates of developing the condition in the other eye during the study. More than half of participants who already had diabetic retinopathy in one eye developed it in the other eye.

 

 

"These results underscore the importance of Latinos, especially those with diabetes, getting regular, dilated eye exams to monitor their eye health," Varma said. "Eye care professionals should closely monitor Latinos who have eye disease in one eye because their quality of life can be dramatically impacted if they develop the condition in both eyes."

 

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Child’s weight may cause drugs to metabolize differently, study suggests

BY Michael Johnsen

ANAHEIM, Calif. Researchers from the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy have provided the first evidence-based data on changes in drug metabolism in obese children as compared with healthy-weight children.

The study, conducted by L’Aurelle Johnson and Manoj Chiney in the Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacy, evaluated drug metabolism in 16 healthy weight children and nine obese children.

“We have known for years that drugs metabolize differently in obese adults as compared to healthy weight adults,” stated Johnson. “But, there has been very little, if any, information available that specifically addresses the consequences of obesity on drug metabolism in children. Without this information, our ability to identify optimal drug dosing in children often relies on trial and error approaches.”

In the study, Johnson and Chiney examined drug metabolizing enzyme activity in healthy weight and obese children, ages 6 to 10 years old. Specifically, they looked at how the children metabolized caffeine and dextromethorphan, an over-the-counter cough suppressant.

They found that obese children metabolized both drugs at different rates than healthy-weight children.

Johnson said this finding is the first of many steps in determining the overall effect of obesity on drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination in children. She plans to conduct additional research to define the activity of other drug metabolizing enzymes that may also be altered in the pediatric population as a result of obesity.

“Collectively, such knowledge concerning key factors that impact activity of drug metabolizing enzymes in children will have a significant positive impact on the development of optimal drug dosing regiments in children in order to maximize efficacy, while minimizing potential adverse drug effects, in the treatment of serious diseases such as cancer,” Johnson said.

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Head lice meets its match in LiceGuard’s Robi Comb

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK LiceGuard has developed an innovative, nontoxic method to detect and destroy lice.

 

LiceGuard’s Robi Comb is a quick, electronic comb that detects and kills head lice, which then are combed out of hair. LiceGuard’s Robi Comb and other all-natural products are supported by Healthy Child — a nonprofit organization focused on reducing and eliminating chemical exposures from home products, furnishings and food.

 

"Parents today are aware of the potential dangers that chemicals present to children’s health and proper development. Advocating for safe products and alternatives to those filled with harmful synthetics is key to Healthy Child’s core mission," said Christopher Gavial, CEO and executive director of Healthy Child Healthy World. "We help parents navigate a complicated and confusing marketplace to find high quality, effective alternatives to conventional products.  We recommend the Robi Comb because parent won’t be worried about any chemical intrusion and yet they can properly treat their child’s lice issues."

LiceGuard’s Robi Comb currently is being sold at such retailers as Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart.

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