Macular edema in Hispanics with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus in Starr County, Texas: Prevalence, incidence and risk factors

Adel Abdelhamid Youssef, The University of Texas School of Public Health


This project is based on secondary analyses of data collected in Starr County, Texas from 1981 till 1991 to determine the prevalence, incidence and risk factors for macular edema in Hispanics with non-insulin-dependent diabetes in Starr County, Texas. Two studies were conducted. The first study examined the prevalence of macular edema in this population. Of the 310 diabetics that were included in the study 22 had macular edema. Of these 22 individuals 9 had clinically significant macular edema. Fasting blood glucose was found to be significantly associated with macular edema. For each 10 mg/dl increase in fasting blood glucose there was a 1.07 probability of an increase in the risk of having macular edema. Individuals with fasting blood glucose $\ge$200 mg/dl were found to be more than three times at risk of having macular edema compared to those with fasting blood glucose $<$200 mg/dl.

In the second study the incidence and the risk factors that could cause macular edema in this Hispanic population were examined. 240 Hispanics with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and without macular edema were followed for 1223 person-years. During the follow-up period 27 individuals developed macular edema (2.21/100 person-years). High fasting blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin were found to be strong and independent risk factors for macular edema. Participants taking insulin were 3.9 times more at risk of developing macular edema compared to those not taking insulin. Systolic blood pressure was significantly related to macular edema, where each 10 mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure was associated with a 1.3 increase in the risk of macular edema. In summary, this study suggests that hyperglycemia is the main underlying factor for retinal pathological changes in this diabetic population, and that macular edema probably is not the result of sudden change in the blood glucose level. It also determined that changes in blood pressure, particularly systolic blood pressure, could trigger the development of macular edema. Based on the prevalence reported in this study, it is estimated that 35,500 Hispanic diabetics in the US have macular edema. This imposes a major public health challenge particularly in areas with high concentration of Mexican Americans. It also highlights the importance of public health measures directed to Mexican Americans such as health education, improved access to medical care, and periodic and careful ophthalmologic examination by ophthalmologists knowledgeable and experienced in the management of diabetic macular edema.

Subject Area

Public health|Ophthalmology

Recommended Citation

Youssef, Adel Abdelhamid, "Macular edema in Hispanics with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus in Starr County, Texas: Prevalence, incidence and risk factors" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9620778.