There is a lack of studies evaluating the sub-clinical retinal changes in patients with long-term type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and without history of systemic/ocular complications. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate sub-clinical structural and/or vascular retinal changes in patients with long-term (≥30 years) T1DM and without systemic/ocular complications (“happy few” patients) using structural optical coherence tomography (OCT), OCT-angiography and microperimetry. Twelve eyes of 12 consecutive T1DM patients (mean age 52 ± 12 years, mean duration of disease 35 ± 3 years, mean HbA1c level 7.3 ± 2.8%), without micro/macrovascular complications associated with long-standing T1DM, and twelve healthy subjects were consecutively included. No statistically significant differences were disclosed comparing patients and controls for age, sex, best-corrected visual acuity, central macular thickness, and choroidal thickness. Using OCT-angiography, we did not find any significant difference in foveal avascular zone area, perfusion density, vessel length density, and tortuosity. Moreover, no significant differences were disclosed in retinal nerve fiber layer and ganglion cell complex thickness using structural OCT. No differences were disclosed in retinal sensitivity by microperimetry. New diagnostic tools are able to confirm the presence of a particular population of patients with type 1 diabetes who have been completely spared from diabetic retinal complications. The finding of these “happy few” patients could help us to better understand and target future treatments for diabetes.
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