Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine whether social deprivation is a risk factor for late presentation of patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy and whether it affects their access to urgent laser treatment.
Methods: Using a 2:1 case: control design, 102 patients referred to a UK teaching hospital as part of the UK Diabetic Retinopathy National Screening Programme were identified for the period between 1 June 2010 to 1 June 2013. Social deprivation was scored using the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010. Additional variables considered included age, duration of disease, ethnicity, and HbA1c at time of referral.
Results: The cases comprised 34 patients referred with proliferative (grade R3) retinopathy with a control group of 68 patients with lower retinopathy grades; two control patients were excluded due to incomplete data. On univariate analysis, R3 retinopathy was associated with higher social deprivation (P<0.001, Mann-Whitney U-test), and with higher HbA1c (11.5% vs 8.4%; P<0.001, Mann-Whitney U-test). Forward stepwise multivariable analysis showed that the association of R3 retinopathy with deprivation was significant even after adjusting for HbA1c (P=0.016). On univariate analysis South Asian ethnicity was also identified as being a risk factor for presentation with R3 retinopathy, but this was no longer significant when HbA1c was adjusted for in a forward stepwise logistic regression analysis.
Conclusion: In our cohort social deprivation appears to be associated with late presentation of proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Our study supports the need to target these groups to reduce preventable blindness and to identify strategies which overcome barriers to care.
Keywords: diabetes; index of multiple deprivation; proliferative diabetic retinopathy; social deprivation.