PURPOSE: The purpose of the study was to evaluate the prevalence and incidence of diabetic retinopathy (DR) along with associated markers in patients with type 2 diabetes in the Danish DR-screening programme.
METHODS: We included all persons with type 2 diabetes in the Danish Registry of Diabetic Retinopathy, who had attended at least one episode of DR screening in 2013-2018. DR was classified as levels 0-4 indicating increasing severity. Data were linked with various national health registries to retrieve information on diabetes duration, marital status, comorbidity and systemic medication.
RESULTS: Among 153 238 persons with type 2 diabetes, median age and duration of diabetes were 66.9 and 5.3 years and 56.4% were males. Prevalence and 5-year incidences of DR, 2-step-or-more progression of DR and progression to proliferative DR (PDR) were 8.8%, 3.8%, 0.7% and 0.2%, respectively. In multivariable models, leading markers of incident DR and progression to PDR were duration of diabetes (HR 1.98, 95% CI 1.87-2.09; HR 2.89, 95% CI 2.34-3.58 per 10 years of duration) and use of insulin (HR 1.88, 95% CI 1.76-2.01; HR 2.40, 95% CI 1.84-3.13), while the use of cholesterol-lowering medicine was a protecting marker (HR 0.87, 95% CI 0.81-0.93; HR 0.70, 95% CI 0.52-0.93). From 2013 to 2015, 3-year incidence rates of PDR decreased from 1.22 to 0.45 events per 1000 person-years.
CONCLUSION: Nationally, among Danish individuals with type 2 diabetes attending DR screening, we identified duration of diabetes and use of insulin as the most important predictor for the development of DR, while cholesterol-lowering medicine was a protective factor.