Disease burden of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy and their future projections in the UK: cross-sectional analyses of a primary care database

Sajjad Haider, Rasiah Thayakaran, Anuradha Subramanian, Konstantinos A Toulis, David Moore, Malcolm James Price, Krishnarajah Nirantharakumar

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OBJECTIVES: To estimate the current disease burden, trends and future projections for diabetes mellitus (DM) and diabetic retinopathy (DR) in the IQVIA Medical Research Data (IMRD).

PARTICIPANTS/DESIGN/SETTING: We performed a cross-sectional study of patients aged 12 and above to determine the prevalence of DM and DR from the IMRD database (primary care database) in January 2017, involving a total population of 1 80 824 patients with DM. We also carried out a series of cross-sectional studies to investigate prevalence trends, and then applied a double exponential smoothing model to forecast the future burden of DM and DR in the UK.

RESULTS: The crude DM prevalence in 2017 was 5.2%. The DR, sight-threatening retinopathy (STR) and diabetic maculopathy prevalence figures in 2017 were 33.78%, 12.28% and 7.86%, respectively, in our IMRD cross-sectional study. There were upward trends in the prevalence of DM, DR and STR, most marked and accelerating in STR in type 1 DM but slowing in type 2 DM, and in the overall prevalence of DR.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest differential rising trends in the prevalence of DM and DR. Preventive strategies, as well as treatment services planning, can be based on these projected prevalence estimates. Improvements that are necessary for the optimisation of care pathways, and preparations to meet demand and capacity challenges, can also be based on this information. The limitations of the study can be overcome by a future collaborative study linking DR screening and hospital eye services data.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere050058
JournalBMJ open
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


  • Cost of Illness
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
  • Diabetic Retinopathy/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care
  • Risk Factors
  • United Kingdom/epidemiology


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