Diabetic retinopathy: global prevalence, major risk factors, screening practices and public health challenges: a review

Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2016 May;44(4):260-77. doi: 10.1111/ceo.12696. Epub 2016 Feb 17.


Diabetes retinopathy (DR) is a leading cause of vision loss in middle-aged and elderly people globally. Early detection and prompt treatment allow prevention of diabetes-related visual impairment. Patients with diabetes require regular follow-up with primary care physicians to optimize their glycaemic, blood pressure and lipid control to prevent development and progression of DR and other diabetes-related complications. Other risk factors of DR include higher body mass index, puberty and pregnancy, and cataract surgery. There are weaker associations with some genetic and inflammatory markers. With the rising incidence and prevalence of diabetes and DR, public health systems in both developing and developed countries will be faced with increasing costs of implementation and maintenance of a DR screening program for people with diabetes. To reduce the impact of DR-related visual loss, it is important that all stakeholders continue to look for innovative ways of managing and preventing diabetes, and optimize cost-effective screening programs within the community.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / diagnosis*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / epidemiology*
  • Global Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mass Screening
  • Prevalence
  • Public Health
  • Risk Factors