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Diabetic retinopathy nearly doubles the risk of Parkinson's

Patients diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy (DR) are almost twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease compared to those without the eye condition according to a new study.

The researchers, from the Asan Medical Centre in Seoul, said diabetic retinopathy is an independent risk factor for Parkinson’s disease and that physicians should look for it, as well as diabetic neuropathy, when patients with DR complain of motor and neurologic symptoms.

“Studies have shown an association between diabetes and Parkinson’s disease,” researcher Dr Seung Eun Lee from the university’s Department of Internal Medicine wrote.

“The retina is a part of the central nervous system; it was proposed that DR and Parkinson’s disease share common pathophysiology of dopamine deficiency. However, no epidemiological studies have investigated the relationship between these two diseases.”

According to medical news site Healio, the researchers examined patient data related to health checkups, prescription use and diagnostic codes from the Korean National Health Insurance Service database between 2005–2013. Incidence rates for Parkinson’s disease among those with no diabetes, diabetes without DR and those with DR were 2.74, 8.39 and 15.51 per 10,000 person-years, respectively.

The team used Cox proportional hazards regression analysis to calculate the hazard rate (HR) for Parkinson’s disease, depending on diabetes or DR status.

After adjusting for age, sex, BMI, smoking, alcohol use, exercise, hypertension, dyslipidemia, end-stage renal disease, peripheral artery disease, fasting plasma glucose and insulin use, patients with diabetic retinopathy had a higher incidence of Parkinson’s disease (HR = 1.75; 95% CI, 1.64-1.86) than those with diabetes but no DR (HR = 1.33; 95% CI, 1.29-1.38).

While the results suggested that diabetic retinopathy is an independent risk factor for Parkinson’s disease, the researchers said more work is needed into the mechanism of increased risk.


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