The present study aimed to analyze the temporal changes in the prevalence, screening rate, visual impairments and treatment patterns of diabetic retinopathy in the Korean population over 8 years.Materials and Methods
This was a retrospective population-based study of Korean national health insurance beneficiaries aged 30 years or older with type 2 diabetes, obtained from the Korean National Health Insurance Claims database from 2006 to 2013 (n = 1,655,495 in 2006 and 2,720,777 in 2013). The annual prevalence rates of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy, dilated fundus examinations, visual impairment, laser treatment and vitrectomy, as determined based on diagnostic and treatment codes, were analyzed.Results
There was a steady increase in the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy, from 14.3% in 2006 to 15.9% in 2013. However, the incidence of new diabetic retinopathy cases decreased from 6.7/100 person-years in 2006 to 5.6 in 2013. Approximately 98% of patients underwent at least one dilated fundus examination during the follow-up period. The prevalence of diabetic retinopathy peaked in the 60–69 years age group. The prevalence of diabetic retinopathy was higher in female than in male diabetes patients. The proportion of patients who underwent an annual dilated fundus examination improved from 24.3% in 2006 to 30.0% in 2013. Among patients with diabetic retinopathy, constant decreases in the proportions of those who received laser treatment (11.4% in 2006 to 6.9% in 2013) and who underwent vitrectomy (2.4% in 2006 to 1.7% in 2013) were noted. Additionally, a decreasing trend in the prevalence of visual impairment was noted among the patients with diabetic retinopathy, from 2% (4,820/237,267) in 2006 to 0.08% (3,572/431,964) in 2013.Conclusions
Although there was a rapid increase in the prevalence of diabetes in the Korean population in the past decade, the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy remained stable during the study period. However, just three out of 10 patients with diabetes underwent regular annual dilated fundus examinations. Thus, an improvement in the continuity of diabetic retinopathy screening among patients with diabetes is necessary to reduce the risk of visual impairment as a result of diabetic retinopathy.