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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2017 May 1;58(6):BIO234-BIO239. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-21801.

Presence of Peripheral Neuropathy Is Associated With Progressive Thinning of Retinal Nerve Fiber Layer in Type 1 Diabetes.

Author information

Institute of Health & Biomedical Innovation, and School of Optometry and Vision Science, Queensland University of Technology, Australia.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Parkville, Victoria, Australia.
Poostchi Eye Research Center, Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.
Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Princess Alexandra Hospital, and School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia.
Institute of Cardiovascular Science, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom.
Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar, Doha, Qatar.



Reduced retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness has been demonstrated in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) in cross-sectional studies. This prospective study defines longitudinal alterations to the RNFL thickness in individuals with type 1 diabetes without (DPN-ve) and with (DPN+ve) DPN and in relation to risk factors for nerve damage.


A cohort of 105 individuals with type 1 diabetes (20% DPN+ve) with predominantly mild or no retinopathy and no previous retinal photocoagulation underwent spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) at baseline, 2 years, and 4 years. SD-OCT scans were acquired at 3.45-mm diameter around the optic nerve head and the overall RNFL and RNFL in the nasal, superior, temporal, and inferior quadrants were quantified. By including serial quantified RNFL parameters, linear mixed models were applied to assess the change in RNFL thickness over time and to explore the associations with other clinical variables.


There was a significant decline in the overall RNFL thickness (-0.7 μm/y, P = 0.02) and RNFL in the superior quadrant (-1.9 μm/y, P < 0.01) in the DPN+ve group compared with DPN-ve group. The overall RNFL thickness and RNFL in the superior and nasal quadrants were inversely associated with age (β = -0.29, -0.41, and -0.29, respectively; P ≤ 0.02). Sex, retinopathy, diabetes duration, hemoglobin A1c, lipid profile, blood pressure, cigarette use, alcohol consumption, and body mass index did not show any significant effects (P > 0.05).


Individuals with DPN showed a progressive RNFL thinning overall and in the superior quadrant, which was more pronounced in older individuals. There may be common pathways for retinal and peripheral neurodegeneration that are independent of conventional DPN risk factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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