Microaneurysm turnover is a predictor of diabetic retinopathy progression

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To analyse retinopathy phenotypes and microaneurysm (MA) turnover in mild non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) as predictors of progression to diabetic central-involved macular oedema (CIMO) in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) in two different ethnic populations.


205 patients with type 2 DM and mild NPDR were followed in a prospective observational study for 2 years or until development of CIMO, in two centres from different regions of the world. Ophthalmological examinations, including best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), fundus photography with RetmarkerDR analysis, and optical coherence tomography (OCT), were performed at baseline and 6 12 and 24 months.


158 eyes/patients reached either the study endpoint, CIMO (24) or performed the last study visit (24-month visit) without developing CIMO (134). From the eyes/patients in analysis, 27 eyes (17.1%) progressed to more advanced ETDRS (Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study) levels: 6 progressed to mild NPDR (level 35), 15 progressed to moderate NPDR (level 43), 5 progressed to moderately severe NPDR (level 47) and 1 progressed to high risk PDR (level 71). Worsening in ETDRS level is associated with phenotype C (p=0.005). From the 130 eyes/patients with a low MA turnover, 18 (13.8%) eyes/patients had an increase in ETDRS level, and from the 19 eyes/patients with a high MA turnover, 9 (47.4%) had an increase in ETDRS level (p<0.001).


Eyes in the initial stages of diabetic retinopathy show different phenotypes with different risks for progression to CIMO. In phenotype C, MA turnover correlates with ETDRS grading worsening and development of CIMO.

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