Obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to the development and progression of diabetic retinopathy. As of late, researchers may have confirmed an easy way to avoid the concomitant ocular condition, and it means you may need to boost your patient education on therapy compliance. A team recently found that patients with type 2 diabetes who are compliant with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy for sleep apnea were less likely to have retinopathy, emphasizing the benefits and potential therapeutic role of CPAP in individuals with both conditions.

This retrospective, cross-sectional study evaluated 321 patients and compared the prevalence of retinopathy between groups that were or were not compliant with CPAP therapy.

The investigators noted that the overall prevalence of retinopathy was 19.6% and the condition was significantly less prevalent in those compliant with CPAP, with prevalence rates of 16.1% in the CPAP-compliant group and 26.1% in the other. This relationship remained statistically significant when adjusting for other factors known to impact the course of diabetic eye disease.

“Increased CPAP compliance may mitigate the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy in type 2 diabetic patients with obstructive sleep apnea,” the study authors concluded in their paper.

Smith JP, Cyr LG, Dowd LK, et al. The Veterans Affairs continuous positive airway pressure use and diabetic retinopathy study. Optom Vis Sci. 2019;96(11):874-8.