It has rarely been studied whether the presence and severity of diabetic retinopathy (DR) could influence the renal disease progression among all chronic kidney disease (CKD) diabetic patients. This study investigates the characteristics of diabetic patients, with different stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to the occurrence of diabetic retinopathy and determines the influence of retinopathy in the deterioration of renal function. We conduct a multicenter, longitudinal cohort study based on the Epidemiology and Risk Factors Surveillance of the CKD project (2008–2013) and the National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD) (2001–2013). A total of 4050 diabetic patients with CKD, 20–85 years of age, from 14 hospitals and the community are included in this study. As compared to CKD patients without DR, CKD patients with DR have a lower baseline estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) (39.17 ± 30.36 mL/min per 1.73 m 2 vs. 54.38 ± 33.67 mL/min per 1.73 m 2 ); poorer glycemic control (higher glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) 7.85 ± 4.97 vs. 7.29 ± 4.02, p < 0.01); higher proteinuria (urine protein-to-creatinine ratio (UPCR)1.94 ± 2.96 g/dL vs. 0.91 ± 2.11 g/dL, p < 0.01); more anemia (Hb 11.22 ± 2.43 g/dL vs. 12.39 ± 3.85 g/dL, p < 0.01), and more hypoalbuminemia (3.88 ± 0.95 g/dL vs. 4.16 ± 1.74 g/dL, p < 0.01). Later stage (stage 3b–5) CKD patients with DR had significantly higher CKD progression compared with patients without DR (OR (odds ratio) 1.66 (1.36–2.02)). Patients with proliferative DR had significantly higher CKD progression events compared to patients with non-proliferative DR (OR 2.18 (1.71–2.78)). The presence and severity of DR is a risk factor for CKD progression among our Taiwanese CKD patients with diabetes. Prevention and early detection of DR are important and DR should be routinely screened as early as possible among diabetic CKD patients.
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