Some time ago I did a google search on proliferative retinopathy in non-diabetics. I can't remember why I did that. Maybe it was a forum thread. Doesn't matter. If you don't already know, I've been battling this condition since 1994. It's impossible for me to go through a day without experiencing sight difficulties. I try to keep in touch with news on it.
So I read a few studies. They went something like this.
36 non-diabetic patients with preretinal or prepapillary proliferations were examined. Nearly all patients had changes of the arteries due to arteriosclerosis or hypertension.
In 22 patients the vascular new-formations were located on a level with the retina and they were anastomoses between the retinal vessels. 18 of these patients had simple or hemorrhagic glaucoma.
In 14 patients the proliferations prominated into the vitreous cavity and their appearance varied greatly. Simple glaucoma was found in one and intermittent close angle glaucoma was found in another of the patients in this group.
The line Nearly all patients had changes of the arteries due to arteriosclerosis or hypertension. hit me pretty hard. There's an obvious relationship between retinopathy and atherosclerosis [heart disease].
Of course I immediately forgot about it.
Earlier this week when I was reading the Canadian Diabetes Association 2008 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada, I noticed something related:
Type 1 diabetes is an independent risk factor for premature
CVD and mortality in young adults (20 to 39 years) (19).
The presence of CAD in people with type 1 diabetes is related
to age, duration of diabetes, presence of retinopathy, higher
A1C levels and higher albumin excretion rates, as well as
to traditional CAD risk factors such as elevated total cholesterol
and LDL-C cholesterol, smoking and excess body
In the case of type 1's like me, retinopathy is considered an additional risk factor for CAD.
Then this morning I recieved this in my google news alert: Retina Damage Common Among Older Diabetes Patients
“Investigating the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy is important because it is a key indicator of systemic diabetic microvascular complications, and as such, a sentinel indicator of the impact of diabetes,”
This article says retinopathy is a sentinel indicator of further complications. It's the canary in the coal mine.
What these articles say to me is I'm likely to die of a heart attack or stroke even though I know of no relative on either side that has. None!
Which brings me back to when I was 12yrs old and playing little league baseball. We were playing in the city championships, and we were getting our butts kicked 13-3 in the final inning. I remember the score but I can't remember how many innings we played. I think it was seven. Anyway, our team was pretty down. It was clear we were beaten. The game was over. I came up to the plate, and I smacked that ball so hard it went half way across the field behind the ballfield and rolled all the way to the tennis courts.
I hate losing!