Objective: To determine if physical activity is associated with the 6-year risk of progression of retinopathy or incidence of proliferative retinopathy.
Research design and methods: Participants in the Wisconsin Epidemiologic Study of Diabetic Retinopathy who were free of proliferative retinopathy at the 1984 to 1986 examination and in whom diabetes had developed when younger than 30 years of age (n = 606) were evaluated after a 6-year follow-up period. Stereoscopic fundus photographs were graded for the presence and severity of retinopathy. Physical activity was assessed by a questionnaire.
Results: There were no associations between any of the measures of physical activity and two-step progression of retinopathy or the development of proliferative retinopathy during the follow-up period. No associations were seen even for those with more severe preproliferative retinopathy at the 1984 to 1986 examination or for the subset engaging in strenuous activity such as weight lifting.
Conclusions: Physical activity does not appear to be associated with either an increased or decreased risk of progression of retinopathy or the development of proliferative retinopathy in people with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.