Children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes may only need eye exams every 2 years, according to a study reported in Diabetes Care (March 2005). The findings were based on >1000 young individuals with the disease. The purpose was to evaluate the natural history of retinal disease and to decide appropriate screening intervals. For the study, the participants were separated into 2 age groups based on whether they were older or younger than 11 years of age. The participants were also put into 2 categories: higher risk if diabetes duration was longer than 10 years or if blood sugar levels were not well controlled.
After 1 year, no major change in retinal scans was observed in either age group or in the high-risk group. A 2-year follow-up found that retinal damage deteriorated significantly in the older age group. Yet, it took 6 years before a change was seen in the younger group. The researchers also noted a similar pattern in relation to blood sugar control. Retinal damage increased after 2 years in the poor control group, but not until 3 years in the group with consistently stable control.