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Vitamin D deficiency may be associated with eye disease in young type 1 diabetics

August 1, 2011

According to new Australian research, low vitamin D blood concentrations are associated with a higher prevalence of retinopathy in young people with type 1 diabetes.

In the two year cross-sectional study, vitamin D (25OHD) serum concentrations of 517 patients with type 1 diabetes, aged 8-20 years, and their risk of developing eye problems (retinopathy) were assessed (1). The study results showed that patients with vitamin D deficiency (25OHD concentration equal to or below 50 nmol/L) were twice as likely to develop retinopathy compared to their vitamin D sufficient counterparts (18% vs. 9%). In contrast vitamin D deficiency was not associated with renal impairment (‘microalbuminuria’) or peripheral nerve abnormalities.

The researchers concluded that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a higher prevalence of retinopathy in young people with type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, the body does not produce the hormone insulin. Whilst the inflammatory effects of the deficiency may contribute to early retinal vascular damage, the underlying mechanisms for this novel association would warrant further investigation.

References

  1. Kaur H. et al. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with retinopathy in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Oral presentation at the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting. June 2011.