The metabolic syndrome and severity of diabetic retinopathy

John J. Chen, Lucas J. Wendel, Emily S. Birkholz, John G. Vallone, Anne L. Coleman, Fei Yu, Vinit B. Mahajan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: While metabolic syndrome has been strongly implicated as a risk factor for macrovascular diseases, such as stroke and cardiovascular disease, its relationship with microvascular diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, has been less defined. The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate the association between metabolic syndrome and the presence and severity of diabetic retinopathy. Methods: A retrospective case–control chart review at the University of Iowa ophthalmology and primary care clinics included 100 patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), 100 patients with nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR), 100 diabetic patients without diabetic retinopathy, and 100 nondiabetic patients who were randomly selected. Using the International Diabetes Foundation definition, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome and the number of components of metabolic syndrome were compared among these groups. Results: The prevalence of metabolic syndrome in patients with diabetes was 69.3%, which was significantly higher than that in patients without diabetes (27%; P<0.0001) (odds ratio [OR] =6.28; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.76–10.49; P=0.0004). However, there was no significant difference in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome between diabetics with and without diabetic retinopathy, with rates of 67.5% and 73%, respectively (P=0.36) (OR =0.77; 95% CI: 0.45–1.32; P=0.34). In addition, there was no significant difference between the PDR and NPDR groups, with rates of 63% and 72%, respectively (P=0.23) (OR =0.70; 95% CI: 0.38–1.30; P=0.26). Conclusion: The metabolic syndrome was highly prevalent in patients with diabetes, but it was not associated with the presence or severity of retinopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)757-764
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Ophthalmology
StatePublished - Apr 28 2015


  • BMI
  • Diabetes
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Hypertension
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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