Celiac disease increases risk of diabetic retinopathy

By Jason Clevenger

Summary: A study published by a group of European researchers with access to the Swedish National Patient Register was able to uncover an increased risk of diabetic retinopathy for patients who had both celiac disease and type 1 diabetes.


To perform the study, the researchers identified more than 41,000 patients with type 1 diabetes, of which almost 1,000 also had biopsy-proven celiac disease. From this analysis, the authors were able to discern that patients with type 1 diabetes who had been diagnosed with celiac disease for more than 10 years were three times more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy than diabetic patients who did not also have celiac disease.


Conclusion: Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina and is a very serious complication of diabetes. According to the National Institutes of Health, it is the No. 1 cause of blindness in working-age Americans. The results of this study strongly suggest that patients who have both type 1 diabetes and celiac disease require intensive monitoring of their eyesight, including retinal health.


[1] “A Population-Based Study of the Risk of Diabetic Retinopathy in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease”, Mollazadegan K, Kugelberg M, Montgomery SM, Sanders DS, Ludvigsson J, Ludvigsson JF, Diabetes Care. 2012 Sep 10. Epub ahead of print.

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