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Estimated 9.6 million people in the US have DR and 1.84 million people have VTDR, new study finds


A new study titled, “Prevalence of Diabetic Retinopathy in the US in 2021,” finds that almost 10 million people in the United States with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy.

Close up of elderly persons eyes

(image credit: Adobestock/rocketclips)

A newly published study titled, “Prevalence of Diabetic Retinopathy in the US in 2021,” found that an estimated 9.6 million people in the United States, 26.4% of those with diabetes, had DR and 1.84 million people, 5.1% of those with diabetes, had VTDR.1 The number of people aged 40 years and older living with diabetes-related eye disease has more than doubled since last estimated in 2004. VTDR has also almost doubled since last estimated in 2004.2

The study is the first of its kind to estimate the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy (DR) and VTDR in people younger than 40 years. In the youngest age group, ages 0-24 years, more than 1 in 10 people with diabetes had DR, which increased to nearly 1 in 5 among people with diabetes ages 25 to 39 years.2

The study uncovered that approximately 1 in 4 Americans aged 20 or older with diabetes have DR. The prevalence of both DR and VTDR also varied widely by United States and county. After grouping by age, gender, and ethnicity, rates of DR among people with diabetes ranged from a low of 21.2% in Nevada to a high of 34.2% in Hawaii.2

“The national increase of diabetes over the last two decades has likely impacted the number of people living with serious complications like diabetic retinopathy. This study provides new state and county level prevalence estimates that the health care and public health communities can use to inform screening and early interventions for optimal vision health,” said CDC epidemiologist Elizabeth Lundeen, PhD, MPH, to a press release.

The study was authored by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vision Health Initiative, NORC at the University of Chicago, and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, with support from Prevent Blindness.

Additional information on “The Prevalence of Diabetic Retinopathy in the United States in 2021,” is available.

1. Elizabeth A. Lundeen P. Prevalence of diabetic retinopathy in the US in 2021. JAMA Ophthalmology. June 15, 2023. Accessed June 29, 2023. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/article-abstract/2806093
2. Prevalence of diabetic retinopathy. Prevent Blindness. June 20, 2023. Accessed June 29, 2023. https://preventblindness.org/prevalence-of-diabetic-retinopathy-vehss/

3. Study finds significantly more adults living with diabetic retinopathy in the United States than previously estimated. Prevent Blindness. June 29, 2023. Accessed June 29, 2023. https://preventblindness.org/study-diabetic-retinopathy-estimates

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