Diabetic Retinopathy

OSA Linked to Diabetic Retinopathy

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) was associated with an increased risk for developing diabetic retinopathy in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to a recent study.

The longitudinal study included 230 patients with type 2 diabetes with and without OSA from 2 hospitals in the United Kingdom. Diabetic retinopathy was assessed using retinal images of the eye, and OSA was assessed using a home-based cardiorespiratory device.
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Over a median of 43 months of follow-up, the prevalence of sight threatening diabetic retinopathy was 36.1% and the prevalence of OSA was 63.9%.

Patients with OSA had a higher prevalence of sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy compared to those without OSA, and were more likely to develop pre-/proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

After adjustments for confounders, the researchers found that OSA remained independently associated with sight threatening diabetic retinopathy, and was a predictor for the progression of pre-/proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment was found to significantly reduce the risk of developing pre-/proliferative diabetic retinopathy among patients with OSA.

“Interventional studies are needed to assess the impact of OSA treatment on [sight threatening diabetic retinopathy],” the researchers concluded.

—Melissa Weiss


Altaf QA, Dodson P, Ali A, et al. Obstructive sleep apnoea and retinopathy in patients with type 2 diabetes: a longitudinal study [published online June 8, 2017]. Am J Respir Crit Care Med.