HealthDay News — For patients with type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy (STDR) and with progression to pre-/proliferative DR, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Quratul A. Altaf, from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the impact of OSA on DR in a longitudinal study. Data were included for 230 patients from diabetes clinics in two UK hospitals.

The researchers found that the prevalence of STDR and OSA were 36.1% and 63.9%, respectively. The prevalence of STDR was significantly higher in patients with vs those without OSA (42.9% vs 24.1%). OSA remained significantly independently associated with STDR after adjustment for confounders (odds ratio [OR]: 2.3). Patients with vs those without OSA were significantly more likely to develop pre-/proliferative DR after a median follow-up of 43 months (18.4% vs 6.1%); OSA remained a significant independent predictor of progression to pre-/proliferative DR after adjustment for confounders (OR: 5.2). The likelihood of developing pre-/proliferative DR was reduced for patients who received continuous positive airway pressure treatment.

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“OSA is associated with STDR in patients with T2D,” the authors write. “Interventional studies are needed to assess the impact of OSA treatment on STDR.”

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Altaf QA, Dodson P, Ali A, et al. Obstructive sleep apnoea and retinopathy in patients with type 2 diabetes: a longitudinal study [published online June 8, 2017]. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. doi:10.1164/rccm.201701-0175OC