Original Research

Prevalence and risk factors associated with diabetes retinopathy amongst type II diabetes mellitus at a primary care vision clinic in the eThekwini District, KwaZulu-Natal in 2017

Zaheera Abdool Kader, Ozayr Mahomed
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 79, No 1 | a556 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v79i1.556 | © 2020 Zaheera Abdool Kader, Ozayr Mahomed | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 February 2020 | Published: 30 July 2020

About the author(s)

Zaheera Abdool Kader, Department of Public Health Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Ozayr Mahomed, Department of Public Health Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


ackground:Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the fourth leading cause of blindness and is a major contributor to visual impairment after cataract, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Globally, 55% of patients with diabetes are likely to suffer from DR.

Aim: To determine the prevalence and risk factors associated with DR amongst type II diabetic patients.

Setting: The study was conducted at a non-governmental eye clinic between March and December 2017 in the eThekwini district of KwaZulu-Natal.

Methods: Patients’ demographic and clinical data were obtained through randomised systematic sampling from the medical records of 298 patients. Univariate analysis followed by multivariate logistical analysis was used to test the associations.

Results: In all, 42% of the sampled patients had DR, with 98% (122 patients) displaying DR in both eyes. The mean age of DR patients was 64 years (standard deviation [SD]: 9.34), with a female (n = 97) predominance. Patients with diabetes for > 10 years (odds ratio [OR]: 2.53; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.39–4.62), comorbidity with hypertension (OR: 7.43; 95% CI: 1.57–35.28), and presence of cardiovascular diseases (OR: 4.3; 95% CI: 2.49–7.44) were significant risk factors for DR, whilst an elevated cholesterol level showed an increased but non-significant risk.

Conclusion: Diabetic retinopathy was higher in this study than the global estimated prevalence. Lifestyle diseases and its associated modifiable risk factors are important contributors to the development of DR. A holistic approach towards diabetes, which includes primary prevention and aggressive management and control of hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and cardiovascular diseases, is required to reduce the incidence of diabetes retinopathy.


diabetes; retinopathy; primary care; comorbidity; modifiable risk factors


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