Prevalence of diabetic retinopathy in mainland China: a meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e45264. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045264. Epub 2012 Sep 20.


Background: Although diabetic retinopathy (DR) is considered to be a major cause of blindness, this is the first meta-analysis to investigate the pooled prevalence of DR in mainland China.

Methodology/principal findings: We conducted a search of all English reports on population-based studies for the prevalence of DR using Medline, EMbase, Web of Science, Google (scholar), and all Chinese reports were identified manually and on-line using CBMDisc, Chongqing VIP database, and CNKI database. A meta-analysis was carried out. The fixed effects model or random effects model was used as a statistical test for homogeneity. Nineteen studies were included. The prevalence of DR, non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) in the pooled general population was 1.3% (95%CI: 0.5%-3.2%), 1.1% (95%CI: 0.6%-2.1%), and 0.1% (95%CI: 0.1%-0.3%), respectively, but was 23% (95%CI: 17.8%-29.2%), 19.1% (95%CI: 13.6%-26.3%), and 2.8% (95%CI: 1.9%-4.2%) in the diabetic group. The prevalence rate of DR in the pooled rural population was higher than that in the urban population, 1.6% (95%CI: 1.3%-2%), and the diabetic population, 29.1% (95%CI: 20.9%-38.9%). The prevalence of DR was higher in the Northern region compared with the Southern region.

Conclusions/significance: The prevalence of DR in mainland China appeared a little high, and varied according to area. NPDR was more common. This study highlights the necessity for DR screening in the rural areas of China.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • China / epidemiology
  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / classification
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / epidemiology*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / etiology
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population
  • Urban Population

Grants and funding

This work has been supported by three grants: (1) Liaoning Science and Technology Project, (Project Number: 2009225005); (2) Liaoning Department of Health Medical Peak of Construction Project, (Project Number: 2010016); (3) The Important Platform of Science and Technology Foundation for Universities, Department of Education, Liaoning Province government, China, (Project Number: 2011195). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.