Diabetic eye disease associated with increased risk of severe COVID-19: Study
- The study was published in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice
- Researchers investigated 187 people with diabetes and hospitalised due to COVID-19
- People with diabetic eye disease have a five-fold risk of requiring intubation when hospitalised
A new study published in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice on Tuesday claimed that people with diabetic eye disease have a five-fold increased risk of requiring intubation when hospitalised with COVID-19. Identifying for the first time the risk associated with diabetic retinopathy and COVID-19, the study called for better clinical monitoring of patients with this complication.
A common complication of diabetes, this eye disease is caused by damage to the small blood vessels in the eye, the researchers, including those from King's College London in the UK, explained.
The scientists, as part of the study, investigated 187 people with diabetes hospitalised with COVID-19 between March and April 2020. They found that 67 patients had diabetic retinopathy. Of the 187, the scientists said 26% were intubated, and 45% of these patients had retinopathy.
According to the study, retinopathy was associated with a five-fold increased risk for intubation. However, no association was observed between this condition and mortality.
"This is the first time that retinopathy has been linked to severe COVID-19 in people with diabetes," said study co-author Antonella Corcillo from King's College London. "Retinopathy is a marker of damage to the blood vessels, and our results suggest that such pre-existing damage to blood vessels may result in a more severe COVID-19 infection requiring intensive care treatment."
According to the researchers, people with diabetes are at high risk of vascular complications affecting the large and small blood vessels. Looking for presence or history of retinopathy or other vascular complications of diabetes may help health care professionals identify patients at high risk of severe COVID-19.
"We found out that the presence of diabetes related vascular disease such as retinopathy may result in greater vulnerability and susceptibility to respiratory failure in severe COVID-19," Corcillo said.