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Retina. 2012 Jan;32(1):92-102. doi: 10.1097/IAE.0b013e318219deac.

Early neural and vascular changes in the adolescent type 1 and type 2 diabetic retina.

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  • 1School of Optometry, University of California, Berkeley, California 94602-2020, USA.



This cross-sectional study examines the existence and frequency of functional and structural abnormalities in the adolescent Type 1 diabetic retina. We also compare the results with those of adolescents with Type 2 diabetes.


Thirty-two adolescents with Type 1 diabetes (5.7 ± 3.6 years; mean duration ± SD), 15 with Type 2 diabetes (2.1 ± 1.3 years), and 26 age-matched control subjects were examined. Multifocal electroretinogram responses from 103 retinal regions were recorded. Optical coherence tomography was used to measure retinal thickness. Vascular diameter around the optic nerve was also assessed.


Nine of the 32 (28%) adolescents with Type 1 diabetes and 6 of the 15 (40%) with Type 2 diabetes had significant multifocal electroretinogram implicit time delays compared with 2 of the 26 controls (8%). Retinal thicknesses in both patient groups were significantly (P ≤ 0.01) thinner than controls. The Type 2 group also showed significant (P ≤ 0.03) retinal venular dilation (235.8 ± 5.9 μm) compared with controls (219.6 ± 4.0 μm).


The present study illustrates that subtle but significant functional and structural changes occur very early in Type 1 diabetes. Adolescents with Type 2 diabetes appear to be more affected than those with Type 1 diabetes. Further longitudinal examination of the etiology and progression of these abnormalities is warranted.

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