In previous smaller studies, associations were demonstrated between diabetic retinopathy (DR) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but longitudinal relationships have not been evaluated in larger cohorts. The aim of the present study was to assess the cross-sectional and prospective associations between DR and OSA in a national cohort of patients with type 2 diabetes.
Cross-sectional and 5-year longitudinal registry-based cohort study.
For cases, we included 153 238 patients with type 2 diabetes who had attended diabetic eye screening and were registered in the Danish Registry of Diabetic Retinopathy (DiaBase). Each of these were matched by 5 control participants without diabetes of the same age and gender (n = 746 148).
Exposure and outcome data as well as systemic morbidity and use of medications were identified in national registers, including the DiaBase, the Danish National Patient Register, the Danish National Prescription Registry, and the Danish Civil Registration System. The index date was defined as the date of the first DR screening registered in DiaBase.
Main Outcome Measures
Exposure was defined as present and level-specific DR, and main outcomes were crude, age- and gender-adjusted, and multivariable adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for prevalent OSA as well as hazard ratios (HR) for 5-year incident OSA and DR.
Patients with type 2 diabetes independently were more likely to have prevalent OSA (OR, 2.01; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.95–2.08) and to develop OSA within 5 years (HR, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.46–1.64). Patients with type 2 diabetes and DR at baseline were less likely to have prevalent OSA (OR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.52–0.62) or to demonstrate incident OSA (HR, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.74–0.99). Likewise, patients with OSA had a lower risk to develop DR (HR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.74–0.92).
In a registry-based national cohort study, patients with type 2 diabetes had a higher risk of OSA. However, a 43% decreased risk of prevalent OSA was demonstrated in patients with DR, and prospectively, OSA and DR both were related inversely with each other.