Diabetes, sleep apnoea may accelerate risk of eye disease

 London, July 10  (IANS) Diabetes patients who are also  suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea may be at greater risk of  developing a common form of eye disease leading to blindness,  researchers found.Diabetic retinopathy -- the most common form of eye disease -- affects between 40 and 50 per cent of patients with diabetes.The  findings showed that the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy was higher  in patients with sleep apnoea (42.9 per cent) compared to those without  sleep apnoea (24.1 per cent) -- that causes snoring and interrupting  breathing.Further, it was also more common in patients with both  Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnoea compared to those with only high blood  sugar levels alone."Despite improvements in glucose, blood  pressure and lipid levels, diabetic retinopathy remains very common,"  said Abd Tahrani from the University of Birmingham.Importantly,  patients with sleep apnoea and Type 2 diabetes may also be at an  increased risk of developing advanced diabetic retinopathy over a period  of three years and seven months.These patients may also not be  aware of the onset of diabetic retinopathy and the disease could go  undiagnosed for years, the researchers said.For the study,  published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care  Medicine, the team involved 230 patients with Type 2 diabetes who were  assessed for diabetic retinopathy using specialist retinal imaging,  while sleep apnoea was assessed using a home-based multi-channel  cardio-respiratory portable device.At a follow-up appointment,  on average 43 months later the patients with sleep apnoea (18.4 per  cent) were more likely to develop moderate to severe diabetic  retinopathy compared to those without sleep apnoea (6.1 per cent)."We  can conclude from this study that OSA is an independent predictor for  the progression to moderate or severe diabetic retinopathy in patients  with Type 2 diabetes," Tahrani said.