Intensive glycemic control leads to 50% risk reduction for diabetic retinopathy, study finds

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Patients with Type 2 diabetes who engaged in intensive blood sugar control during their participation in the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes Trial Eye Study cut their risk of diabetic retinopathy in half after a follow-up analysis conducted four years after they stopped the intensive glycemic control therapy.

The study was backed by the National Institutes of Health's National Eye Institute and the findings were announced on Monday at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting in New Orleans.

The follow-up assessment tracked diabetic retinopathy progression in 1,310 ACCORD participants. During their ACCORD participation, these individuals tested and maintained normalized blood sugar levels, improved lipid levels and worked to lower their blood pressure. The treatment phase of the glycemic control had been planned to last 5.6 years, but was stopped short at 3.5 years after an increased mortality rated in the glycemic control group.

While it failed to reduce cardiovascular disease risk, researchers found that the glycemic therapy had cut retinopathy progression by about one-third by the end of ACCORD. Four years later, participants in the glycemic control group were found to have an approximately 50 percent reduction in retinopathy progression.

Emily Chew, MD, deputy director of the NEI Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications and lead author of the study report, said, "This study sends a powerful message to people with type 2 diabetes who worry about losing vision...well-controlled glycemia, or blood sugar level, has a positive, measurable and lasting effect on eye health."

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