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Eye Diseases And The Aging Population

Tuesday, September 23, 2003


A new longitudinal study published in the September issue of Archives of Ophthalmology shows an alarming increase in common age-related eye diseases among older Americans in the last eight years.This clearly demonstrates the dire need for medical approaches and lifestyle changes that focus on chronic degenerative disease prevention.

Results from approximately 10,500 patients, age 65 and over, available for analysis in 1999 showed that age-related macular degeneration increased from 5 percent to 27.1 percent between 1991 and 1999.

The prevalence of diabetes mellitus increased from 14.5 percent in 1991 to 25.6 percent by 1999, with diabetic retinopathy among persons with diabetes mellitus increasing from 6.9 percent to 17.4 percent in 1999.

Primary open-angle glaucoma increased from 4.5 percent to 13.8 percent in this age group. The proportion of subjects with at least one of these three diseases increased from 13.4 percent at the beginning of the study, to nearly half of the surviving Medicare beneficiaries

Many of the eye diseases of the elderly are preventable with lifestyle changes that include proper nutrition, smoking cessation and fitness programs. The US population 65 years and older will grow from 34.5 million in 2000 to 70.3 million by 2030.

This increased eye disease burden has serious implications for the nation's public health, for resource allocation, and for the financing of vision disease prevention programs in the future. As more elderly individuals live longer, we may see a rise in the prevalence of chronic degenerative eye diseases that will significantly challenge our ability to provide proper care.
 
Ellen Troyer, MT MA - Biosyntrx Chief Research Officer
Spencer Thornton, MD - Biosyntrx President

PEARL

This longitudinal study further supports the Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2010 physician intervention "Call to Action" concerning chronic degenerative disease prevention and lifestyle changes in the US population.

References

Longitudinal Prevalence of Major Eye Diseases. Lee P, Feldman Z, et al. Archives of Ophthalmology, Vol.121 (9) September 2003.