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Story Updated: Dec 13, 2012

S. Find out what's to blame.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have set their sights on diabetes...and how it impacts our eyes.

In their research, just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the growth in diabetes cases here in the U.S. over the past decade was linked to significant growth in visual impairment.

The only major risk factor for vision loss that increased over time was diabetes lasting 10 or more years. The prevalence of diabetes is increasing and people are having it longer because they are having it at a younger age.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey... this new study tracked nearly 20-thousand people. Participants had eye exams, lab tests and filled out questionnaires.

Visual acuity of less than 20/40 was classified as non-refractive visual impairment. This type of impairment is not due to the need for glasses. The most common causes are macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

The study found that the prevalence of non-refractive visual impairment was considerably higher in 2005-2008 than in 1999-2002. 21 percent higher!

Researchers warn if this trend continues, it could result in increasing rates of disability in the U.S. I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the news doctors are reading health news that matters to you.

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit www.excellusbcbs.com