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Who is affected by diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of new cases of vision loss in adults between ages 20 and 74.1 The prevalence of the disease varies between those with type 1 diabetes and those with type 2 diabetes.

Among people who have type 1 diabetes:

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  • After 5 years, about 25% have retinopathy.1
  • After 10 years, 60% have retinopathy.1
  • After 15 years, 98% have retinopathy, and of those, 26% have the proliferative form of the disease.2
  • After 20 years, almost all have retinopathy.1 More than half (53%) have the proliferative form.2

Among people who have type 2 diabetes:

  • At diagnosis, about 21% have retinopathy.1 People with type 2 diabetes are more likely to have had the disease for several years before they are actually diagnosed. As a result, the time between diagnosis of diabetes and initial development of retinopathy may be shorter in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • After 15 years, about 60% to 85% have retinopathy.2


  1. Fong D, et al. (2004). Retinopathy in diabetes. Diabetes Care, 27(Suppl 1): S84-S87.

  2. Begg IS, et al. (2001). Eye disease. In HC Gerstein, RB Haynes, eds., Evidence-Based Diabetes Care, pp. 396-428. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Carol L. Karp, MD - Ophthalmology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Last Revised March 22, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 22, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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