Is There a Connection Between Diabetic Retinopathy and Sleep Disordered Breathing?

June 23, 2009

A small study reports a relationship between sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy. The sleeping 4% oxygen desaturation index (ODI) and the mean SpO2 were calculated for 48 patients with nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) and 118 patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) by conducting pulse oximetry overnight. If the 4% ODI was > 5 times an hour, sleep-disordered breathing was diagnosed; the results were compared between the two groups.

The incidence of SDB and the 4% ODI/hour value was significantly higher in the PDR group than NPDR in this study (P = .003 and .03, respectively).

SDB has been shown to be a risk factor for hypertension, coronary artery disease, and cerebrovascular disease; the same factors behind the pathogenesis and development of SDB are thought to be the same as the ones that lead to PDR. In earlier studies, these researchers concluded that SDB may lead to the progression of diabetic retinopathy by impairing blood glucose control. However, this study suggests that 4% ODI independently contributes to the diagnosis of PDR and that the nocturnal desaturation and reoxygenation may directly play a role. The researchers note that a larger study with more subjects needs to be performed to reevaluate the findings.

Read the abstract and full text version (login required) here on the American Journal of Ophthalmology website.




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