By Deborah Mitchell for EmaxHealth.com
One of the most common side effects of type 1 diabetes is eye disease or diabetic retinopathy, which refers to a number of vision problems affecting the retina. But some people with type 1 diabetes have managed to completely or nearly avoid developing this eye disease–but how and why?
Nearly 90 percent of people who have type 1 diabetes for 20 years or longer develop diabetic retinopathy, which is also the leading cause of vision loss among working age adults in developed countries, including the United States. Among all Americans who have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, 40 to 45 percent have some degree of diabetic retinopathy, according to the National Eye Institute.
At Joslin Diabetes Center, investigators have reported on a study of 158 people who reached a special milestone: they have had type 1 diabetes for 50 years or longer, and a high proportion of them have developed little or no diabetic retinopathy. These individuals are known as “50-year Medalists,” and the research into this special group has been supported by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).