Population trends in the 10-year incidence and prevalence of diabetic retinopathy in the UK: a cohort study in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink 2004-2014

Rohini Mathur, Krishnan Bhaskaran, Emma Edwards, Helen Lee, Nishi Chaturvedi, Liam Smeeth, Ian Douglas
BMJ Open 2017 February 28, 7 (2): e014444

OBJECTIVES: To describe trends in the incidence and prevalence of diabetic retinopathy (DR) in the UK by diabetes type, age, sex, ethnicity, deprivation, region and calendar year.

DESIGN: Cohort study using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD).

SETTING: UK primary care.

PARTICIPANTS: 7.7 million patients ≥12 contributing to the CPRD from 2004 to 2014.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Age-standardised prevalence and incidence of diabetes, DR and severe DR (requiring photocoagulation) by calendar year and population subgroup. Relative risk of developing DR and severe DR by population subgroup.

RESULTS: The prevalence of DR was 48.4% in the population type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) (14 846/30 657) and 28.3% (95 807/338 390) in the population with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Prevalence of DR remained stable in people with T2DM and decreased in people with T1DM. Screening for DR increased over time for patients with T2DM and remained static for patients with T1DM Incidence of DR increased in parallel with the incidence of T2DM in both diabetic populations. Among patients with T2DM, relative risk of DR varied significantly by region, was increased for older age groups and in men compared with women, with risk of severe DR increased in South Asian groups and more deprived groups. Relative risk of DR for patients with T1DM varied by age and region, but not by gender, ethnic group or deprivation.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the largest study to date examining the burden of DR in the UK. Regional disparities in incidence may relate to differences in screening delivery and disease ascertainment. Evidence that deprivation and ethnicity are associated with a higher risk of severe DR highlights a significant potential health inequality. Findings from this study will have implications for professionals working in the diabetes and sight loss sectors, particularly to inform approaches for diagnosis of retinopathy and campaigning to better tackle the disease for at risk groups.

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