Type 2 diabetes in paediatrics: retinopathy is not too far away

Diabetic retinopathy is the main cause of blindness in adulthood diabetics. Little was known about the prevalence of DR in children with type 2 diabetes.

Analysis of 6,000 cases worldwide

Type 2 diabetes: spreading regardless of age

More and more people worldwide are developing type 2 diabetes. An unbalanced diet and a lack of exercise are contributing to this development. Even children and adolescents are not spared. More and more paediatric patients are developing type 2 diabetes and need to be treated accordingly.

One of the main complications of type 2 diabetes is and remains diabetic retinopathy. It contributes significantly to vision loss in patients, and should therefore be avoided at all costs.

Is diabetic retinopathy also an issue for children?

Whether and to what extent children and adolescents also suffer from diabetic retinopathy was previously unknown. This topic has now been addressed in an extensive literature search and the prevalence of retinal changes in the paediatric population has been investigated.

To this end, the data of almost 6,000 children, teenagers and young adults up to the age of 21 were analysed. The result: the global prevalence of diabetic retinopathy in these diabetics is 6.99 per cent.

How long does it take for retinopathy to occur?

It should come as no surprise that the risk of diabetic retinopathy increases with age. As a rule, this is due to the disease having been present for some time. However, children and adolescents appear to suffer eye damage relatively quickly. After just five years, around 28 per cent of children with type 2 diabetes suffer from eye changes - compared to just one per cent after two and a half years.

The studies also showed that annual screening using fundus photography is the best way to recognise the disease at an early stage.

Key issues for medical practice

Diabetic retinopathy is also on the rise worldwide in children with type 2 diabetes. Annual examinations can contribute to early detection. The risk of developing the eye disease increases significantly over the years, with 28 per cent of all paediatric diabetics suffering from DR after just five years.

  1. Cioana M, Deng J, Nadarajah A, Hou M, Qiu Y, Chen SSJ, Rivas A, Toor PP, Banfield L, Thabane L, Chaudhary V, Samaan MC. Global Prevalence of Diabetic Retinopathy in Pediatric Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2023 Mar 1;6(3):e231887. PMID: 36930156; PMCID: PMC10024209.