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Correlational Study of Diabetic Retinopathy and Hearing Loss

Ooley, Caroline; Jun, Weon; Le, Kim; Kim, Allen; Rock, Nathan; Cardenal, Molly; Kline, Rebecca; Aldrich, Drew; Hayes, John

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001025

Purpose Our research goal was to complete a retrospective chart review to determine if there is a correlation between the level of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic neurosensory hearing loss.

Methods A retrospective analysis of 175 Department of Veterans Affairs Computerized Patient Record System charts was completed at the VA Portland Health Care System. Subjects were classified by degree of diabetic retinopathy as follows: no diabetic retinopathy (n = 80), mild nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (n = 51), moderate nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (n = 25), and combined severe nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) (n = 17). Degree of sensorineural hearing was collected for each ear. Additionally, measures of diabetic control, including hemoglobin A1C, and creatinine, were recorded.

Results After controlling for diabetic control, as measured by HbA1C and creatinine, level of diabetic retinopathy was significantly associated with hearing loss severity in both ears (right ear, P = .018 and left ear, P = .007).

Conclusions When adjusted to include diabetes control, the severity of diabetic retinopathy showed a correlation with degree of hearing loss at most levels. Because of this association, recommendation for hearing evaluations may be considered for those with mild, moderate, or severe nonproliferative or proliferative diabetic retinopathy.





Pacific University College of Optometry, Forest Grove, Oregon (CO, JH); VA Portland Health Care System, Portland, Oregon (CO, WJ, KL, MC, RK); Myoptic Optometry, Portland, Oregon (AK); Wang Vision 3D Cataract & LASIK Center, Nashville, Tennessee (NR); and VA Central California Health Care System, Portland, Oregon (DA).

Caroline Ooley, Pacific University College of Optometry, 2043 College Way, Forest Grove, OR 97116, e-mail:

© 2017 American Academy of Optometry