WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. In high-risk adults with Type 2 diabetes, researchers have found that two therapies may slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease that is the leading cause of vision loss in working-age Americans.
Intensive blood-sugar control reduced the progression of diabetic retinopathy, compared with standard blood-sugar control, and combination lipid therapy with a fibrate and statin also reduced disease progression, compared with statin therapy alone. However, intensive blood pressure control provided no additional benefit to patients compared with standard blood pressure control.
Results of the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) Eye Study, supported by the National Institutes of Health, recently were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the 70th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association.
"This is the largest study to date examining the effects of blood sugar, combination lipid therapy, and blood pressure control on the prevention of diabetic retinopathy progression using retinal photographs," stated Walter Ambrosius, a professor of biostatistical sciences in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and principal investigator of the ACCORD Eye study's coordinating center, in a release issued Friday. "Many people with diabetes have microvascular problems, which can result in problems with the kidneys and amputation of toes and feet, and the only place that you can directly observe the microvasculature is in the back of the eyes. What we have seen in the eyes is potentially an indicator of what is happening in other parts of the body."
"The ACCORD Eye Study clearly indicates that intensive glycemic control and fibrate treatment added to statin therapy separately reduce the progression of diabetic retinopathy," added Emily Chew, chair of the Eye Study and chief of the Clinical Trials Branch of the Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications at the National Eye Institute. "The main ACCORD findings showed that fibrate treatment added to statin therapy is safe for patients like those involved in the study. However, intensive blood sugar control to near normal glucose levels increased the risk of death and severe low blood sugar, so patients and their doctors must take these potential risks into account when implementing a diabetes treatment plan."
The ACCORD study was a landmark clinical trial that included 10,251 adults with Type 2 diabetes who were at especially high risk for heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular death. The study evaluated three intensive strategies, compared with standard treatments for lowering cardiovascular risks associated with diabetes.