Purpose: To investigate the relations between socioeconomic factors and the incidence of proliferative retinopathy and loss of vision.
Methods: A population-based sample of younger-onset persons with diabetes 25 years of age or older (n = 334) and older-onset persons with diabetes (n = 906) was followed over a 4-year period. Education, occupational status, employment status, and marital status were measured at baseline and follow-up. Main outcome measures were incidence of proliferative retinopathy and loss of vision measured using standard protocols.
Results: Proliferative retinopathy was more likely to develop in younger-onset women with less education than in those with more education; no relation was found in the older-onset group. Education was associated inversely with incidence of loss of vision in younger-onset women and older-onset men.
Conclusion: These data suggest that education is associated with the development of loss of vision, independent of other risk factors. The associations vary between men and women and between younger-onset and older-onset people with diabetes. Further understanding of these relationships may lead to interventions to prevent loss of vision in people with diabetes.