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Importance: The association between diabetic retinopathy (DR) and quality of life (QoL) has not been thoroughly investigated. Objective: To investigate the association between DR and both vision-related QoL (VRQoL) and general health-related QoL (HRQoL). Data Sources: MEDLINE, EBSCO, Embase, and Web of Science were searched from their inception to April 2022. Study Selection: Studies included adults with DR and a measure of QoL. Data Extraction and Synthesis: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines were followed. Two assumption-free meta-analyses were conducted. Analysis 1 included studies with participants without DR as the referent group to which QoL scores of participants with DR, grouped according to DR severity, were compared. Analysis 2 included all studies with participants with DR and a measure of QoL. QoL scores were pooled within categories of DR severity, and comparisons were made between these categories. Main Outcome and Measures: QoL measured using HRQoL and VRQoL scales. Results: A total of 93 articles were included: 79 in the meta-analyses and 14 in the narrative results. VRQoL was recorded in 54 studies, HRQoL in 26, and both in 13 studies. The most commonly used scales were the National Eye Institute 25-item Visual Function Questionnaire (VFQ-25) (n = 49) for VRQoL and the Short Form (SF) Health Survey (n = 18) for HRQoL. Thirty-five studies reported VFQ-25 composite scores. Analysis 1 consisted of 8 studies including 1138 participants with DR and 347 participants without DR. Compared with participants without DR, the composite VFQ-25 score was 3.8 (95% CI, 1.0-6.7) points lower in those with non–vision-threatening DR (NVTDR), 12.5 (95% CI, 8.5-16.5) lower in those with any DR, and 25.1 (95% CI, 22.8-27.2) lower in VTDR (P 

Original publication




Journal article


JAMA Ophthalmology


American Medical Association

Publication Date