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September 1, 2014

Study finds 93 million with diabetic retinopathy

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Diabetic retinopathy (DR) may be the leading cause of visual impairment and blindness worldwide with approximately 93 million people living with the condition, according to the first global estimate.

A meta-analysis of 35 studies canvassing almost 23, 000 individuals with diabetes found an overall prevalence of 34.6 per cent DR.

For the first time, researchers provided precise estimates of the prevalence of DR clinical subgroups: proliferative DR (7 per cent), macular oedema (6.8 per cent), and vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy (10.2 per cent).

Taking into account the 2010 world diabetes population, the researchers noted that of the 93 million people with DR, 28 million may have some sight-threatening form of the condition.

“These data highlight the substantial worldwide public health burden of DR and the importance of modifiable risk factors in its occurrence,” the study authors wrote in Diabetes Care.

The study confirmed diabetes duration, HbA1c and blood pressure were three major risk factors for DR that applied broadly across the mild to vision-threatening stages, they said.

There was also a “substantially higher” prevalence of DR amongst people with type I than type II diabetes, a result independent of diabetes duration, the authors said.

Diabetes Care 2012: doi:10.2337/dc11-1909