Severe snoring linked to retinopathy

Type 2 diabetes patients with obstructive sleep apnoea are twice as likely to develop diabetic retinopathy as those without, new UK research shows

12 Jul 2017 by Selina Powell

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) in type 2 diabetes patients increases the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, according to new research from the University of Birmingham. 

The study of 230 type 2 diabetes patients at hospitals in the Midlands is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

Patients were assessed for diabetic retinopathy using specialist retinal imaging, while OSA was diagnosed using a home-based cardiorespiratory portable device. 

The prevalence of diabetic retinopathy was higher in those with OSA at 42.9% than those without the condition (24.1%). 

Follow-up appointments more than three years later found that patients with OSA were more likely to develop moderate to severe retinopathy. 

The longitudinal research found that 18.4% of patients with OSA developed this level of severity, compared to 6.1% of patients without the condition.

The study also found that patients who received treatment for OSA with a machine designed to unblock the airways during sleep had a lower chance of developing advanced diabetic retinopathy compared to patients who did not receive the therapy. 

Study author, Dr Abd Tahrani, told OT  that clinicians should consider testing type 2 diabetes patients for OSA. 

“It is important that clinicians treating patients with type 2 diabetes are aware that their patients who also have OSA are particularly at increased risk of developing advanced retinopathy and, hence, appropriate preventative measures should be put in place,” he emphasised. 


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