Among American youths, diabetes is growing—and fast.1 From 2002 to 2012, newly diagnosed cases of Type 2 diabetes in patients younger than age 19 jumped by 7.1% annually.1 No wonder, then, patients in their mid-20s are seeing serious impact to their eye health.

The investigators used data collected as part of the Treatment Options for Type 2 Diabetes in Adolescents and Youth study. That research looked at 699 newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetic adolescents aged 10 to 17 from 2004 to 2011.

A recent follow-up—Longitudinal Outcomes in Youth With Type 2 Diabetes study—enrolled 517 of those original participants, now in their mid-20s. On average, they saw increases in body mass index and HbA1C. Their eyes were worse for the wear, too, as investigators noted significant diabetic retinopathy progression.2 Of the 370 returning participants with diabetes who had their fundus photos taken in 2011 and again in 2018, 22% had developed mild nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR).2 In 2011, only 14% has mild NPDR. Additionally, 4% developed macular edema, up from none in 2011.

Altogether, 142 adjudicated eye events were seen, including NPDR, proliferative diabetic retinopathy, macular edema, cataracts and glaucoma—equal to 15.5 eye disease events per 1,000 patients per year.3 Of particular note, diabetic retinopathy was more prevalent among those who did not maintain glycemic control.3

1. Mayers- Davis E, Lawrence J, Dabelea D, et al. Incidence trends of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes among youths, 2002–2012. New Eng J Med. 2017;376:1419-29.

2. Zeitler P, Hirst K. Treatment options for Type 2 diabetes in adolescents and youth (TODAY). Clin trials. May 2019. Accessed June 14, 2019.

3. Busko M. Alarming complications in 20-year-olds with Type 2 diabetes. Medscape. June 14, 2019.