Type 2 diabetes affects millions of people, and in its advanced stages can lead to eye problems, such as diabetic retinopathy. New research from the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute (NEI) shows that people with diabetes who strictly controlled their blood sugar level cut their risk of diabetic retinopathy roughly in half.
The Trial Eye Study, done during the landmark Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) assessed diabetic retinopathy progression in 1,310 people with type 2 diabetes.
Four years later ACCORD Follow-on Eye Study (ACCORDION) focused on patients who had once controlled their diet with intensive therapy, but had since stopped. By comparing them with patients still participating in the dietary therapy program, the difference in rate of diabetic retinopathy development was established.
“This study sends a powerful message to people with type 2 diabetes who worry about losing vision,”said Emily Chew, M.D., lead author of the study. “Well-controlled glycemia, or blood sugar level, has a positive, measurable, and lasting effect on eye health.”
The findings of ACCORDION support the idea that lowering blood glucose is beneficial in reducing the progression of eye related diseases, even late in the course of type 2 diabetes progression.
Even short-term fluctuations in glucose appear to have a significant effect. This study is only one of many that show that strict glycemic control has positive, long-lasting effects on small blood vessels throughout the body.