The likelihood of diabetic patients developing diabetic retinopathy depends on many factors.
These risk factors include how long the patient has had diabetes, early age of onset of diabetes, high blood pressure, neuropathy, elevated cholesterol and glycated hemoglobin A1C.
The presence of cataracts has now been added to the list of risk factors associated with diabetic retinopathy. Worldwide, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy are the leading cause of blindness. Cataract surgery is the standard treatment for cataracts and diabetic patients are at a higher risk of developing cataracts.
The Singapore Eye Disease Epidemiology Study evaluated the links between cataracts and the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy. 972 diabetic patients were involved in the study that took place between June 2004 and March 2009 with a 6-year follow-up visit between June 2011 and June 2016.
Researchers found that of the 350 eyes that underwent cataract surgery, 22% developed diabetic retinopathy compared to the 1384 eyes that never underwent cataract surgery and never had cataracts with only 14.1% developing diabetic retinopathy.
Additional studies are needed to prove the link between cataracts, cataract surgery and a higher risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.