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Diabetic Retinopathy Independently Tied to Depression

Severe nonproliferative/proliferative diabetic retinopathy linked to greater depressive symptoms

THURSDAY, July 7, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Severe nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) or PDR, but not diabetic macular edema (DME), is associated with depressive symptoms, according to a study published online July 7 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Gwyneth Rees, Ph.D., from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study in a tertiary eye hospital involving 519 patients with diabetes (median duration of diabetes, 13 years). They assessed how the severity of DR and DME correlated with symptoms of depression and anxiety.

In raw scores, 15.4 percent of patients screened positive for depressive symptoms and 22.7 percent screened positive for symptoms of anxiety. The researchers found that there was an independent correlation between severe NPDR/PDR and greater depressive symptoms after adjustment for sociodemographic factors and clinical characteristics, including visual acuity. Overall, 60.6 percent of the unique variance in depressive symptoms was due to a history of depression or anxiety, while severe NPDR or PDR accounted for 19.1 percent of the total explained variance of depressive symptoms. There was no correlation for DME with depressive symptoms. There was no correlation observed between DR and symptoms of anxiety.

“The severity of DR could be an indicator to prompt monitoring of depression in at-risk individuals with diabetes,” the authors write. “Further work is required to replicate these findings and determine the clinical significance of the association.”

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