The life-changing condition is a complication of diabetes that damages blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye. It commonly affects both eyes and can lead to vision loss if it is not treated.
A study led by Professor Tien Wong from the Centre for Eye Research Australia, provides the first global estimate of diabetic retinopathy and confirms the need for effective screening and management of factors that contribute to the condition.
The study found that in 2010, an estimated 93 million people worldwide had some form of diabetic retinopathy, and 28 million people were at risk of losing their sight because of the condition.
The prevalence of diabetic retinopathy varied across ethnic groups, but was highest among African-Americans and lowest among Asians. There was no discernible gender difference.
Diabetic retinopathy rates increased with diabetes duration, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol. Individuals with diabetes for 20 years or more were more than three times more likely to have diabetic retinopathy, as were people with Type 1 compared to Type 2 diabetes.
Read about new treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy on page 32 in this issue of mivision.