Impact of diabetic retinopathy on vision-specific function

Ophthalmology. 2010 Apr;117(4):757-65. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2009.09.035. Epub 2010 Feb 1.


Objective: To assess the influence of the spectrum of diabetic retinopathy (DR) on vision-specific function in an Asian population.

Design: Population-based cross-sectional study.

Participants: Persons aged 40 to 80 years of Malay ethnicity in Singapore.

Methods: The Singapore Malay Eye Study was a population-based, cross-sectional study of 3280 Asian Malays (78.7% response rate). Five end points were considered: (1) any DR, (2) macular edema (ME), (3) clinically significant macular edema (CSME), (4) vision-threatening DR (VTDR), and (5) DR severity levels ranging from none to proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). Vision function was assessed using the Vision-Specific Functioning Scale validated using Rasch analysis.

Main outcome measures: Vision-specific functioning score.

Results: Of 357 diabetic participants in the study, 23.2% had any DR, 5.6% had ME, 5.0% had CSME, 10.6% had VTDR, and 6.2% had PDR. In linear regression models adjusting for age, gender, stroke, diabetic risk factors, and socioeconomic factors, poorer vision-specific function was associated independently with any DR (beta, -0.21; P<0.05), ME (beta, -0.48; P<0.05), CSME (beta, -0.42; P<0.05), VTDR (beta, -0.64; P<0.05), and PDR (beta, -0.92; P<0.001). When controlling further for presenting visual acuity, VTDR (beta, -0.37; P = 0.01) and PDR (beta, -0.61; P = 0.002) were the only 2 DR categories independently associated with poorer vision-specific function and PDR. Persons with VTDR and PDR were 6 to 12 times more likely to report lower participation in daily living activities than those without these DR levels.

Conclusions: People with VTDR and PDR have substantial difficulty undertaking vision-specific daily activities. These findings reinforce the importance of preventative efforts targeted at the earliest DR stages to prevent progression to later stages of DR.

Financial disclosure(s): Proprietary or commercial disclosure may be found after the references.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian People / ethnology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / ethnology
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Macular Edema / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Singapore / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*