"These findings reinforce the recommendation that patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes should be screened for retinopathy," said Emily Chew, M.D., of the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which funded the study. "We advise good control of blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol as well as regular eye exams."
"Previous studies have not accurately defined when type 2 diabetes begins, so our understanding of the onset of diabetic eye disease has been limited. Now we know that diabetic retinopathy does occur in pre-diabetes. We're also seeing it early in the course of diabetes--within an average of 3 years after diagnosis," noted Richard Hamman, M.D., DrPH, professor and chair, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine, and vice chair of the DPP. "This adds to our understanding of the development of retinopathy and suggests that changes in the eye may be starting earlier and at lower glucose levels than we previously thought."
Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. The condition is sometimes called "impaired fasting glucose (IFG)" or "impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)," depending on the test used to diagnose it. People with pre-diabetes have an increased risk of de