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Sangeetha Srinivasan, Cirous Dehghani, Nicola Pritchard, Katie Edwards, Anthony W. Russell, Rayaz A. Malik, Nathan Efron; Corneal and Retinal Neuronal Degeneration in Early Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(14):6365-6373. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-22736.
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To examine the neuronal structural integrity of cornea and retina as markers for neuronal degeneration in nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR).
Participants were recruited from the broader Brisbane community, Queensland, Australia. Two hundred forty-one participants (187 with diabetes and 54 nondiabetic controls) were examined. Diabetic retinopathy (DR) was graded according to the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) scale. Corneal nerve fiber length (CNFL), corneal nerve branch density (CNBD), corneal nerve fiber tortuosity (CNFT), full retinal thickness, retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL), ganglion cell complex (GCC), focal (FLV) and global loss volumes (GLV), hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), nephropathy, neuropathy, and cardiovascular measures were examined.
The central zone (P = 0.174), parafoveal thickness (P = 0.090), perifovea (P = 0.592), RNFL (P = 0.866), GCC (P = 0.798), and GCC GLV (P = 0.338) did not differ significantly between the groups. In comparison to the control group, those with very mild NPDR and those with mild NPDR had significantly higher focal loss in GCC volume (P = 0.036). CNFL was significantly lower in those with mild NPDR (P = 0.004) in comparison to the control group and those with no DR. The CNBD (P = 0.094) and CNFT (P = 0.458) did not differ between the groups.
Both corneal and retinal neuronal degeneration may occur in early stages of diabetic retinopathy. Further studies are required to examine these potential markers for neuronal degeneration in the absence of clinical signs of DR.
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