If you have a vitamin D deficiency, then you could be at an increased risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
That’s the finding of a recent meta-analysis that looked at patients suffering from both diabetes and vitamin D deficiencies. The results of the study indicate that there may be a link between the two conditions, and that vitamin D deficiency may play an important role with insulin secretion.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that causes damage to the eyes. In diabetic retinopathy, the retina of the eye becomes damaged, leading to vision loss and even blindness. The condition is the leading cause of vision loss in people who suffer from diabetes.
In the new meta-analysis, researchers looked at 13 studies involving over 9,000 participants who had diabetes and had undergone treatment for vitamin D deficiency and diabetic retinopathy.
The researchers found that diabetics with vitamin D deficiencies were more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy. As well, the people with diabetic retinopathy had significantly lower vitamin D levels.
These findings are in line with previous research. One cross-sectional study of children and adolescents with diabetes found that vitamin D deficiencies were associated with retinopathy. Similar findings have also been found in studies involving mice and cell cultures.
With the results of the new meta-analysis, researchers now believe that vitamin D deficiencies do play an important role in the development of diabetes complications. However, they do not know if vitamin D deficiencies directly cause retinopathy or whether they simply allow for this complication to arise.
Next, the researchers want to explore whether supplementing vitamin D can be used to help treat or manage diabetic retinopathy. They believe it’s too early to suggest vitamin D supplements to people with diabetic retinopathy. More research will be needed to confirm the exact role that vitamin D plays in the condition.
Kaur, H., et al., “Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated With Retinopathy in Children and Adolescents With Type 1 Diabetes,” Diabetes Care, 2011 Jun; 34(6): 1400-1402. http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/dc11-0103.