Diabetes and diabetic eye disease may increase the risk of severe COVID-19 infection

Patients who suffer from diabetes or diabetic eye disease are at a considerably increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection, new research by King’s College London finds.


The study is the first of its kind to link diabetic retinopathy and the novel coronavirus strain associated with the recent pandemic.

Released in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, the new UK-based research implicated over 180 patients with diabetes who had been treated in a hospital setting with COVID-19 during the first few months of the pandemic.

Of all the patients they evaluated, researchers determined that 36 percent of the participants had a diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy.

The study’s first author Antonella Corcillo stated this about the findings: “This is the first time that retinopathy has been linked to severe COVID-19 in people with diabetes.”

Corcillo added: “Retinopathy is a marker of damage to the blood vessels and our results suggest that such pre-existing damage to blood vessels may result in a more severe COVID-19 infection requiring intensive care treatment.”

Patients with diabetes are at an increased risk of vascular complications and thus may result in greater vulnerability for those with respiratory failure from severe symptoms associated with COVID-19.

The findings hoped to raise great awareness of the serious complications from the novel coronavirus and prioritizes patients who are suffering from diabetic retinopathy.

Image courtesy of iStockPhoto
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