Objective: To determine the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy among adults 40 years and older in the United States.
Methods: Pooled analysis of data from 8 population-based eye surveys was used to estimate the prevalence, among persons with diabetes mellitus (DM), of retinopathy and of vision-threatening retinopathy-defined as proliferative or severe nonproliferative retinopathy and/or macular edema. Within strata of age, race/ethnicity, and gender, US prevalence rates were estimated by multiplying these values by the prevalence of DM reported in the 1999 National Health Interview Survey and the 2000 US Census population.
Results: Among an estimated 10.2 million US adults 40 years and older known to have DM, the estimated crude prevalence rates for retinopathy and vision-threatening retinopathy were 40.3% and 8.2%, respectively. The estimated US general population prevalence rates for retinopathy and vision-threatening retinopathy were 3.4% (4.1 million persons) and 0.75% (899 000 persons). Future projections suggest that diabetic retinopathy will increase as a public health problem, both with aging of the US population and increasing age-specific prevalence of DM over time.
Conclusion: Approximately 4.1 million US adults 40 years and older have diabetic retinopathy; 1 of every 12 persons with DM in this age group has advanced, vision-threatening retinopathy.