Adults with diabetes often develop an eye condition called diabetic retinopathy. Now, new research has suggested that children with type 2 diabetes may be more vulnerable to this eye complication, according to Medicine Net.

Researchers at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine in Arizona, who published their findings online in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, found that type 2 diabetic kids were twice as likely to develop retinopathy 

Study author Patricia Bai said, “The new findings emphasize the need to differentiate between the two types of diabetes when discussing screening for eye disease with patients and families. Closer monitoring for retinopathy development in youth-onset type 2 diabetes to prevent vision-threatening complications may be warranted.”

The researchers examined the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy in 525 people aged 22 or younger who were diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

It was found that within the first 15 years of diagnosis, kids with type 2 diabetes had an 88% greater risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. In addition, these children are also more likely to have advanced forms of diabetic eye disease, requiring surgery.

“Increasing dedicated public health efforts to screen for type 2 diabetes and capture those who remain undiagnosed may help ensure management strategies are in place to reduce the risk for developing eye complications,” explained Bai, who is a medical student at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine in Arizona.

“We do hope our findings will provide background for future studies that focus on prevention of ocular disease in youth-onset type 2 diabetes,” she added.

Experts who were not part of the study have expressed concerns over the rising rates of type 2 diabetes in children, which may eventually lead to more and more vision complications in the future.

Dr. Joshua Miller, Medical Director of Diabetes Care at Stony Brook Medicine in New York, said, “As the obesity epidemic spreads to children, the rates of type 2 diabetes are showing up in younger patients.”

Unfortunately, in most people, type 2 diabetes is not always diagnosed right away. Dr. Miller explained, “It can take upward of five to 10 years to diagnose type 2, which means there is a greater potential for complications to develop. We are against the clock.”

“The most important timeframe in preventing complications is right after someone develops diabetes and in the ensuing two decades,” he added. “Diagnosing type 2 in a child and intervening can absolutely reverse or delay diabetes onset and lower risk of long-term complications.”

It is important to keep your blood glucose level under control in order to stave off diabetic complications.

Eye specialist Dr. Kammi Gunton said, “We know that the incidence of diabetic retinopathy increases with years since diagnosis, and the more years you have it, the greater the chance of complications.”

“With type 2, we ask them to come in at the time of diagnosis, and they should be examined every year,” she added. “With type 1, it varies from three to five years following diagnosis and then yearly.”