Risk factors for diabetic retinopathy among Saudi diabetics

A M El-Asrar, K A Al-Rubeaan, S A Al-Amro, D Kangave, O A Moharram
International Ophthalmology, 22 (3): 155-61

PURPOSE: To describe the incidence of, and risk factors associated with, diabetic retinopathy in diabetic persons assessed at a Saudi diabetes centre.

METHODS: Five hundred and two patients with diabetes mellitus assessed by our service were studied. There were 174 patients (34.7%) with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and 328 patients (65.3%) with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM).

RESULTS: The incidence of retinopathy was 157/502 (31.3%). The incidence was 42.5% in patients with IDDM and 25.3% in those with NIDDM. By logistic regression analysis, it was shown that old age (>60 years), insulin use, long duration of diabetes (>10 years), poor diabetes control, and the presence of nephropathy were significantly associated with the incidence of retinopathy. On the basis of the magnitudes of the regression coefficients in the hazard function, long duration of diabetes was the most important independent risk factor for the development of retinopathy; the presence of nephropathy, age >60 years, poor diabetes control, and use of insulin were less important (regression coefficients: 1.9, 1.71, 1.331, 0.8508 and 0.6178, respectively). The incidence of macular oedema was significantly associated with the presence of hypertension and high cholesterol levels in patients with IDDM. Polycotomous regression analysis showed that the presence of nephropathy was the only factor significantly associated with the severity of retinopathy.

CONCLUSIONS: The significant associations with poor control and duration of diabetes provide further strong evidence for the benefits of optimal glycaemic control. Other potentially modifiable risk factors for retinopathy may be important, including elevated blood pressure and serum cholesterol.

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