People with type 1 diabetes are more than 60 per cent more likely to get conjunctivitis than those without the condition, according to a study of almost one million people.
Those with type 2 diabetes, meanwhile, are also at higher risk of the eye infection by 11 per cent.
Researchers from the University of Surrey say this increased risk might be because people with diabetes are more likely to consult their doctors regarding eye complications and receive antimicrobial prescriptions.
“Even given this possibility, these data support the hypothesis that conjunctivitis is more common in people with diabetes; however, hyperglycemia does not appear to be a major predisposing factor to ocular infections,” said the researchers.
The study team measured the rates of eye infections over six years in both people with and without diabetes to examine the impact of glycemic control on eye infections. They found an increased risk of conjunctivitis but not for the other ocular illnesses that they reviewed, such as blepharitis and periorbital cellulitis.
The study, published in the Diabetes Care journal, was launched to test the theory that those with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are more susceptible to conjunctivitis.
A group of 938,440, including a total of 3,273 who had type 1 diabetes and a further 45,311 with type 2 diabetes, were studied.
Those with type 1 diabetes had an estimated 61 per cent increased risk of conjunctivitis, while people with type 2 diabetes were 11 per cent more likely, the study found.
The researchers concluded: “We found that conjunctivitis occurs more frequently in people with diabetes. The higher incidence of conjunctivitis and prescriptions for ocular antimicrobial agents in people with diabetes may be explained in part by an increased propensity in this population to consult a doctor and to receive prescriptions.
“We did not find evidence for the common assertion that diabetes is associated with an increased incidence of other eye infections. We also did not find evidence that glycemic control has any influence on the incidence of eye infections.”

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