Long-term Effects of Pancreas Transplantation on Diabetic Retinopathy and Incidence and Predictive Risk Factors for Early Worsening

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Limited data are available regarding the long-term effects of pancreas transplantation on the progression of diabetic retinopathy (DR) and the incidence and associated risk factors for early worsening of DR.


Patients who underwent successful pancreas transplantation between January 2007 and October 2015 and were followed for 1 year or longer were consecutively enrolled. Variables regarding demographic, systemic, metabolic, and surgical factors were reviewed for each patient. DR progression was defined as (i) development or aggravation of macular edema requiring intravitreal anti-VEGF injections and/or (ii) progression of DR severity requiring panretinal photocoagulation (PRP) and/or pars planar vitrectomy (PPV). Early worsening was defined as progression within 1 year of posttransplant.


Three hundred three eyes of 153 patients were included in the analysis. At the pretransplant ocular evaluation, 221 eyes (72.9%) showed advanced DR with history of PRP and/or PPV. During a mean follow-up period of 4.2 years, 62 eyes (20.5%) experienced DR progression, and early worsening was noted in 57 eyes (18.8%). DR with recent PRP within pretransplant 1 year and pancreas transplant alone were significant risk factors for early worsening.


In 4 of 5 patients who received pancreas transplant, the degree of DR remained stable over time after transplantation. Meanwhile, early worsening of DR could occur in patients at risk, particularly within the first posttransplant year. We suggest that physicians should have a high index of suspicion and carefully monitor for early worsening of DR and timely manage possible ocular deterioration.

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