Diabetes remains a leading cause of blindness and kidney failure in the United States. Latinos are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, and microvascular complications such as diabetic retinopathy (DR) and chronic kidney disease (CKD). We evaluated the association of DR with decline in kidney function in Latinos with type 2 diabetes with or without CKD in a multispecialty clinic.


This is a retrospective cohort study of 351 self-identified Latino individuals with type 2 diabetes enrolled in the Latino Diabetes Initiative at Joslin Diabetes Center. Baseline demographic factors including age, sex, comorbidities, and laboratory values such as A1c and albuminuria were evaluated as predictors of kidney outcomes. The annualized change in estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was evaluated with a linear regression model. We used logistic regression to evaluate whether DR was associated with development of rapid progressors (>3 mL/min/y eGFR loss) and 30% change in eGFR per year.


DR was present in 39.2% of the cohort with mild nonproliferative DR (NPDR) in 57.1%, moderate to severe NPDR in 27.8%, and proliferative DR in 15.0%. Those with DR had a longer duration of type 2 diabetes (P<.001), higher albuminuria (P=.003), and lower baseline eGFR (P=.001). We found that individuals with moderate to severe NPDR and proliferative DR had a significant decline in GFR (coefficient −6.32; 95% CI, −11.40 to −1.23) and −7.82 (−14.99 to −0.65), compared with individuals without DR.


The presence of DR is a marker for increased eGFR loss, emphasizing the need for routine retinal examinations as part of comprehensive diabetes care. Individuals with DR should be considered at high risk for GFR loss.

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