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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


RICE, J C  and  STEFFEN, J. Outcomes of vitrectomy for advanced diabetic retinopathy at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2015, vol.105, n.6, pp.496-499. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND: Present limitations in primary and secondary prevention of diabetic retinopathy mean that many patients with diabetes present with advanced retinal complications, often requiring surgery (vitrectomy). OBJECTIVES: To determine the outcomes of vitrectomy for advanced diabetic retinopathy and to examine context-specific risk factors that may influence outcomes and decisions affecting resource allocation. METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of 124 vitrectomies with up to 6 months' follow-up. RESULTS: Visual acuity was 6/60 or worse in the better eye in 23.4% of patients at presentation. The mean visual acuity of the listed eye was 2/60. The fellow eye was considered inoperable in 20.2% of cases. Visual function declined significantly in 26.2% of patients while awaiting surgery. The average waiting time until surgery was 2.9 months (range 1 day - 9 months). Epiretinal membranes were present in 93.6% of cases, and posterior iatrogenic breaks occurred in 49.2%. Silicone oil was used in 24.2%. Visual acuity improved in 54.9%, was unchanged in 30.1%, and worsened in 14.0% of cases at 6 months. Patients with poorer vision at surgery were more likely to improve (odds ratio 2.15; p=0.048). Factors associated with a worse visual outcome were increased age at surgery (p=0.042) and posterior iatrogenic retinal breaks (p=0.007). Renal dysfunction was not associated with worse visual outcomes. CONCLUSION: Vitrectomy improved or stabilised vision in 85.0% of cases, although outcomes were unpredictable. A long waiting time to surgery contributed to patient morbidity. The presence of renal dysfunction did not predict poorer visual outcomes.

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