Thyroid Problems Linked to Eye Disease in Type 2 Diabetes
What is the problem and what is known about it so far?
People with diabetes are more likely than those without diabetes to develop eye and vision problems. One common eye problem is diabetic retinopathy, a general term for problems of the retina. Most people with diabetes will eventually get at least mild retinopathy. Severe retinopathy that can cause blindness is less common and can be prevented with good blood glucose control. Some people with diabetes also have problems with their thyroid. Subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) is a common, mild thyroid problem with no symptoms, but people who have it are more likely to have heart disease as well. Very little research has been done to see if SCH is also linked to diabetes complications such as eye disease.
Why did the researchers do this particular study?
Researchers wanted to find out if there were links between SCH and eye disease in people with type 2 diabetes.
Who was studied?
The study included 127 people with type 2 diabetes and SCH and 200 people with type 2 diabetes but no SCH in China.
How was the study done?
Researchers looked at how many patients in each group also had retinopathy.
What did the researchers find?
People with SCH were more likely to have retinopathy, especially the severe form that can threaten eyesight. This was true even after taking into account many other factors such as age and sex, length of time with diagnosed diabetes, and whether there also were blood pressure and cholesterol problems. Even people with early signs of possible thyroid disease that did not yet qualify as SCH were more likely to have eye problems than those with more normal thyroid functioning.
What were the limitations of the study?
Because of the study design, researchers could not explain some of their findings. For example, they found that people with type 2 diabetes and SCH appeared to have better glucose control than those without SCH, but they could not tell why.
What are the implications of the study?
Although more study is needed, people with type 2 diabetes and SCH appear to be more likely to develop sight-threatening eye problems. They may benefit from early screening and treatment to prevent eventual vision loss.
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