Purpose: To describe the prevalence and natural history of retinopathy in a cohort of children and young people with type 1 diabetes attending a tertiary hospital diabetes clinic.
Methods: We analysed retinopathy screening data from 2008 to 2010 on all eligible children using the 'Twinkle' diabetes database and the regional retinal screening database.
Results: A total of 88% (149/169) of eligible children were screened in 2008, median age 14 years, 52% male. The prevalence of retinopathy was 19.5% (30/149). All children had background retinopathy grade R1. There was significant difference in median (range) duration of diabetes, 7.7 years (0.6–13.7) vs 5 years (0.2–12.5) (P<0.001) and median (range) HbA1C, 9.1% (7.2–14) vs 8.6% (5.6–13.1) (P=0.02), between the groups with and without retinopathy. At 2- years follow-up, 12/30 (40%) had unchanged retinopathy grade R1, 10/30 (33.3%) showed resolution of changes (R0), 1/30 progressed to maculopathy, and 7/30 had no follow-up data. Median (range) HbA1C in 2008 and 2010 for the groups with stable vs resolved changes was similar, 9.1% (7.2–14.0) and 9.2% (7–14.0) vs 9.5% (7.8–14.0) and 9.2% (8.7–14.0). Of the 119 without retinopathy in 2008, 27 (22.5%) had developed retinopathy within 2 years, including 1 with pre-proliferative retinopathy and 1 with maculopathy. There was no significant difference in HbA1c between those who progressed to retinopathy (8.7% (7.1–13.1)) (8.7% (7.1–13.1)), and those who did not (8.6% (6.3–12.2)).
Conclusions: Prevalence of background retinopathy in our cohort was comparable to the previously published reports, with higher HbA1c and longer duration of diabetes being significant risk factors. On short-term follow-up, Grade 1 retinopathy is likely to resolve in a third of patients and remain unchanged in just over a third.