Prevalence and risk factors for diabetic retinopathy in the multiethnic population of Mauritius

G. K. Dowse, A. R.G. Humphrey, V. R. Collins, W. Plehwe, H. Gareeboo, D. Fareed, F. Hemraj, H. R. Taylor, J. Tuomilehto, K. G.M.M. Alberti, P. Z. Zimmet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines the prevalence of, and risk factors for, diabetic retinopathy in Asian Indian, Chinese, and Creole Mauritians in whom there is an increasing prevalence of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). As part of a population-based survey on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius in 1992, glucose tolerance was classified using a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test on 6,553 persons. Subjects with newly diagnosed (n = 358) or known diabetes (n = 388), and a random sample of one in four subjects with impaired glucose tolerance (n = 165), had stereoscopic 45°retinal photographs taken of three fields in the right eye after mydriasis. Photographs were graded according to a modified version of the Airlie House criteria. The prevalence of nonproliferative and proliferative retinopathy was: 14.5% and 0.3%, respectively, in newly diagnosed diabetic subjects; 42.0% and 2.3%, respectively, in known diabetic subjects; and 9.1% and 0%, respectively, in persons with impaired glucose tolerance; Muslim Indians had the lowest prevalence of retinopathy (10.8% and 34,0% for new and known diabetes, respectively), but after adjusting for other factors, this was significantly different only to Creoles (18.8% and 53.8%, respectively). Univariate analysis revealed significant differences between diabetic subjects with and without retinopathy in mean age, body mass index, fasting and 2-hour plasma glucose levels, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting triglycerides, serum creatinine, and urinary albumin levels. For known diabetes, mean duration of diabetes and the proportion using insulin were also greater in those with retinopathy. Multivariate analysis using logistic regression confirmed that increasing duration of diabetes, fasting plasma glucose, systolic blood pressure, and urinary albumin concentration, and decreasing body mass index, were independently associated with retinopathy. The high prevalence of diabetic retinopathy observed in all major ethnic groups in Mauritius portends a serious public health problem, given the relative recency of the NIDDM epidemic in that country and the limited resources for laser photocoagulation. Strategies to minimize this problem among those already known to have diabetes should include strict control of plasma glucose and blood pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-457
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Ethnic groups
  • Non-insulin-dependent
  • Prevalence
  • Risk factors

Cite this