Background Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of visual impairment (VI). The last study to report the trends of VI due to diabetic retinopathy was carried out in 2003 and since then a national diabetic retinopathy screening programme has been introduced (2013). Contemporary data are needed to evaluate the future impact of screening. The aim was to describe trends in the incidence and prevalence of visual impairment due to diabetic retinopathy in the adult population in Ireland between 2004 and 2013.
Methods Data on VI due to diabetic retinopathy in adults aged 18 years or over who are listed with the National Council for the Blind Ireland (NCBI), (January 2004–December 2013) were analysed. The number of new registrations due to diabetic retinopathy was obtained for each year. Population estimates for Ireland were obtained from the Central Statistics Office. Data from four nationally representative studies was used to estimate the annual prevalence of self-reported diagnosed diabetes in adults aged 18 years and over. Incidence and prevalence rates of VI due to diabetic retinopathy were calculated in both the adult population with diagnosed diabetes and the total adult population. Cuzick’s trend test was used to test for changes over time. Incidence and prevalence were expressed per 100,000 population. Analysis was carried out in Stata 13.
Results In 2013, 601 adults with diabetic retinopathy were listed on the NCBI database, a prevalence of 403.5 (95% CI: 372.6–437.1) per 100 000 adult population with diabetes. From 2004 to 2013, 511 incident cases of VI due to diabetic retinopathy occurred; a higher proportion of new cases occurred in adults aged 66 years or over (≥66 years: 67% vs. 18–65 years: 33%). The incidence of VI due to diabetic retinopathy increased from 24.5 (95% CI: 16.3–36.9) in 2004 to 45.7 (95% CI: 36.0–57.9) in 2013 (p trend = 0.03) in the population with diabetes. Over the same time period, the incidence of VI due to diabetic retinopathy also increased in the general population from 7.5 per 100,000 [95% CI: 5.0–11.2] to 19.6 per 100,000 [95% CI: 15.5–24.9] (p trend = 0.01).
Conclusion The incidence of VI due to diabetic retinopathy has increased over the past decade. This may be attributed in part to the rising prevalence of diabetes or an increase in detection due to the initiation of local retinal screening initiatives. Our findings will provide useful baseline statistics to monitor the impact of the national diabetic retinopathy screening program.
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