NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Eye Study Underscores Long-Term Benefits of Diabetes Control

Chew examines a patient’s eyes using a device
Dr. Emily Chew of the National Eye Institute examines a patient’s eyes.

Photo:  NEI

People with type 2 diabetes who intensively controlled their blood sugar level during the landmark Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) Trial Eye Study were found to have cut their risk of diabetic retinopathy in half in a follow-up analysis conducted 4 years after stopping intensive therapy. Investigators who led the ACCORD Follow-on Eye Study (ACCORDION) announced the results June 13 at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting. The study was supported by NEI. 

“This study sends a powerful message to people with type 2 diabetes who worry about losing vision,” said Dr. Emily Chew, deputy director of NEI’s Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications and lead author of the study report, published online in Diabetes Care. “Well-controlled glycemia, or blood sugar level, has a positive, measurable and lasting effect on eye health.”

A complication of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy can damage tiny blood vessels in the retina—the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye. 

Results from ACCORDION suggest that lowering blood glucose can reduce progression of retinal disease relatively late in the course of type 2 diabetes and that even short-term changes in glucose have an effect. 

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