Lack of Physical Activity May Increase Diabetic Retinopathy Risk

Sedentary behavior can lead to cardiovascular disease, and in turn, diabetic retinopathy.

In a recent assessment, sedentary behavior (SB) was associated with an increased risk of diabetic retinopathy (DR).

Researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2006 to assess SB using an accelerometer in 282 diabetic participants. Participants had mild or worse DR, were an average age of 62, and engaged in an average of 522 min/d of sedentary behavior.

Sedentary behavior was defined as activity counts of less than 100/min, and were measured during participants’ waking hours with 4 or more days of at least 10 h/d of accelerometer wear time. Activity counts of 100/min or more was classified as total physical activity.

The results of the study showed that for every 60-min/d increase in SB, participants had a 16% increased risk of having mild or worse DR. The total physical activity level was not associated with DR.

“The plausibility of this positive association between SB and DR may in part be a result of the increased cardiovascular disease risks associated with SB, which in turn may increase the risk of DR,” the study authors wrote. “This association does not prove a cause and effect of SB and increased chance of worsening DR. To know whether this observed association had a cause-and-effect relationship, interventional trials would be needed in which individuals were assigned randomly to increase PA and decreased prolonged SB had a decreased change of worsening DR.”