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How Diabetics Progress to Retina Complications

A look at how primary care patients begin to present with diabetic retinopathy risk.

Eyes with moderate to severe nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) may be at the greatest risk of progression toward forms of diabetic retinopathy that result in blindness, according to findings from an analysis of screening data from US primary care centers.

In new research presented at the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) 2020 Virtual Sessions this weekend, study author Geeta Lalwani, MD, of Boulder Community Health, reported that her team uncovered better interpretation of which patients with diabetes are most likely to advance toward more severe diabetic retinopathy.

Through an assessment of 22,000-plus diabetic patient eyes screened from 1999-2016, Lalwani and colleagues found that eyes with worsening diabetic retinopathy fall into 3 distinct clinical subtypes: progression to clinically-significant macular edema, proliferative diabetic retinopathy, and—in a small subset—progression to both.

“There almost seems like maybe there’s 3 separate populations—if we could go on to identify characteristics—who could go on to develop a subset of diabetic retinopathy,” Lalwani told HCPLive in an interview.

Additionally, Lalwani and colleagues found their findings were consistent with Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study DR Severity Scale (ETDRS-DRSS)—showing the value of a presently available metric for grading diabetic retinopathy patient risks, while complementing it with a better understanding of the paths these patients may go down.

To learn more about the study, watch HCPLive’s video interview with Lalwani above.