Published: 23 February 2022 at 09:00
People with eating disorders three times more at risk from diabetic retinopathy
Eating disorders can cause an increased risk of people with diabetes developing diabetic retinopathy – a condition that can cause blindness if untreated – according to new research published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders.
Diabetes is characterised by high concentrations of glucose in the blood, which can in turn lead to tissue damage in several parts of the body including the heart, feet and eyes. The most common eye disease among people with diabetes is retinopathy, where microvascular changes in the retina can result in vision impairment and even blindness. The risk of diabetic retinopathy affects people with all types of diabetes.
Academics from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) combined data from several studies, with a total of more than 1,100 participants, and found that people with diabetes who were assessed as having an eating disorder were 2.94 times more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy, compared to people with diabetes who did not have an eating disorder.
However, researchers did not find a statistically significant link between binge eating disorder, a condition where a person frequently consumes a large amount of food over a short period of time, and diabetic retinopathy.
Eating disorders considered in the study included anorexia nervosa, a condition where people try and keep their weight as low as possible by reducing their food intake or exercising too much, and bulimia nervosa, where a person attempts to purge food from the body either by vomiting or using laxatives.
Lead author Mike Trott, Research Assistant for ARU’s Vision and Eye Research Institute (VERI) said: