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Eye (Lond). 2016 Jun;30(6):825-32. doi: 10.1038/eye.2016.48. Epub 2016 Apr 1.

Glucose variability and inner retinal sensory neuropathy in persons with type 1 diabetes mellitus.

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Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
Maculogix Inc., Hummelstown, PA, USA.
Department of Ophthalmology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.
Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Diabetes, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


PurposeTo quantify early neuroretinal alterations in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and to assess whether glycemic variability contributes to alterations in neuroretinal structure or function.MethodsThirty patients with T1DM and 51 controls underwent comprehensive ophthalmic examination and assessment of retinal function or structure with frequency doubling perimetry (FDP), contrast sensitivity, dark adaptation, fundus photography, and optical coherence tomography (OCT). Diabetic participants wore a subcutaneous continuous glucose monitor for 5 days, from which makers of glycemic variability including the low blood glucose index (LGBI) and area under the curve (AUC) for hypoglycemia were derived.ResultsSixteen patients had no diabetic retinopathy (DR), and 14 had mild or moderate DR. Log contrast sensitivity for the DM group was significantly reduced (mean±SD=1.63±0.06) compared with controls (1.77±0.13, P<0.001). OCT analysis revealed that the inner temporal inner nuclear layer (INL) was thinner in patients with T1DM (34.9±2.8 μm) compared with controls (36.5±2.9 μm) (P=0.023), although this effect lost statistical significance after application of the Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons. Both markers of glycemic variability, the AUC for hypoglycemia (R=-0.458, P=0.006) and LGBI (R=-0.473, P=0.004), were negatively correlated with inner temporal INL thickness.ConclusionsPatients with T1DM and no to moderate DR exhibit alterations in inner retinal structure and function. Increased glycemic variability correlates with retinal thinning on OCT imaging, suggesting that fluctuations in blood glucose may contribute to neurodegeneration.

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