Diabetic retinopathy is linked to higher depression and anxiety risk in adults with diabetes. Diabetics are more likely to develop cataracts or glaucoma, and nearly half of them will have some sort of eye or vision problem. A common complication of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy is the main cause of eyesight loss among diabetic patients.
The study included 519 participants who had diabetes for 13 years on average. The patients underwent a comprehensive eye exam and were screened for depression and anxiety.
Eighty individuals tested positive for depressive symptoms and 118 persons tested positive for anxiety. Diabetic retinopathy was found to be an independent risk factor for depression and anxiety.
The authors wrote, “The findings of our study demonstrate that severe non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) or proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) and moderate or severe vision impairment, but not DME [diabetic macular edema], were independent risk factors for depressive symptoms in people with diabetes. The severity and progression of DR [diabetic retinopathy] may be a useful indicator to prompt assessment of psychological well-being, particularly in individuals with other risk factors.”
Tips to prevent vision loss in diabetes
Although diabetic retinopathy cannot always be prevented, there are still measures you can take to help lower your risk of developing this condition. Diabetic retinopathy prevention involves:
- Managing your diabetes – through diet, exercise, and other lifestyle habits
- Monitoring blood sugar levels
- Having your hemoglobin checked
- Keeping cholesterol and blood pressure under control
- Quitting smoking
- Paying attention to changes in vision
Exercise, in particular, has been found to prevent diabetic retinopathy in recent studies. The researchers tracked the outcomes of 282 American diabetes patients to assess the impact of exercise on their vision health. The average age of the participants was 62, and nearly one-third of them had mild or severe diabetic retinopathy. The researchers used an accelerometer device to measure activity. On average, participants were active for 8.7 hours a day.
The researchers found that every 60-minute daily increase in physical inactivity increased the risk of mild or severe diabetic retinopathy by 16 percent. The researchers believe the association between a sedentary lifestyle and diabetic retinopathy may have to do with an elevated risk of heart disease, which can further increase the risk for diabetic retinopathy.
The study reinforces the importance of physical activity, especially in diabetics, as a means to keep possible health complications at bay.
With healthy lifestyle habits and proper management of diabetes, you can have greater success in preventing diabetic retinopathy.