Diabetic retinopathy found in pre-diabetic patients

July 6, 2005

Diabetic retinopathy was found in nearly 8% of participants who were pre-diabetic and 12% of participants with type 2 diabetes in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). The results were reported in a presentation at the American Diabetes Association's recent annual meeting.

Diabetic retinopathy was found in nearly 8% of participants who were pre-diabetic and 12% of participants with type 2 diabetes in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). The results were reported in a presentation at the American Diabetes Association's recent annual meeting.

"These findings reinforce the recommendation that patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes should be screened for retinopathy," said Emily Chew, MD, of the National Eye Institute, which funded the study. "We advise good control of blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol as well as regular eye exams."

The program followed 3,234 people with impaired glucose tolerance. About 12% (302) of the DPP Outcome Study participants who had not developed diabetes during the study, and 588 of 876 participants who had developed diabetes, were selected to participate in the retinopathy study. To detect diabetic retinopathy, an evaluation of the fundus was performed.

Participants with pre-diabetes and retinopathy typically had a small number of microaneurysms in the eye, characteristic of early, mild retinopathy that is not yet linked to vision loss. Those who had developed diabetes in the previous 1 to 5 years had slightly more severe retinopathy, according to study outcomes. Higher average blood glucose levels and higher blood pressure were associated with the risk of developing retinopathy in the patients with new-onset diabetes, similar to previous findings in people with longstanding diabetes who develop retinopathy, the study authors said.