Retinopathy linked to duration and age in T1D

A recent study has evaluated the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy in those with Type 1 diabetes and found that its frequency increases with age, poorer glycaemic control and the duration of the disease, particularly for 5 years or more.

As it is one of the most frequent complications of diabetes, the rising worldwide incidence of Type 1 diabetes means that the number of individuals at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy has also increased.  Although crucial medical advances have been made, clinicians cannot always prevent the visual impairment linked to diabetic retinopathy, as its diagnosis and management are often delayed. As a result, screening is regarded as being vitally important.

The research team assessed the prevalence of retinopathy in 359 patients with Type 1 diabetes, collecting data on height, weight, body mass index (BMI), and blood pressure measurements. Glycaemic control was determined using data from daily blood glucose self-monitoring and HbA1c tests.

Approximately 30% of these patients had diabetic retinopathy: these were significantly older than those without retinopathy and often had a higher BMI. Notably, the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy increased significantly with age and longer duration of diabetes. Only 6.2% of patients had had diabetes for less than 5 years and 79.4% had had it for more than 5 years. Although younger age was a protective factor against retinopathy, a higher average HbA1c was found to be associated with the presence of diabetic retinopathy.

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