Neurodegeneration in type 2 diabetes: Evidence from spectral-domain optical coherence tomography

Jay Chhablani, Apoorva Sharma, Abhilash Goud, Hari Kumar Peguda, Harsha L. Rao, Viquar Unnisa Begum, Giulio Barteselli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose. The purpose of this study was to assess changes in the neural retina in eyes with different stages of diabetic retinopathy (DR) in comparison to age-matched healthy subjects. Methods. Retrospective analysis of spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) scans of 76 na¨ıve eyes of 62 subjects with diabetes was performed. Key exclusion criteria included presence of diabetic macular edema, any other retinal disease, history of any treatment for DR, or incorrect segmentation of the retinal layers on SD-OCT scans. Eyes from diabetic patients were divided into three groups, including no DR, nonproliferative DR (NPDR), and proliferative DR (PDR). A control group of 67 eyes of 66 age-matched healthy volunteers was included for comparison. Average, minimum, and sectoral thicknesses for the ganglion cell-inner plexiform layer (GCIPL) and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) were collected from both groups and compared using an ANOVA test. Results. Among the 76 included eyes, 43 had NPDR, 13 had PDR, and 20 had no signs of DR. Average and minimum GCIPL showed significant thinning in diabetic subjects compared with controls in all stages of DR (P <0.05), especially involving the papillo-macula bundle. However, GCIPL thickness was similar between diabetic groups. There was no significant difference in average or sectoral RNFL thicknesses among groups; however, the minimum RNFL thickness was lower in diabetics compared with controls (P <0.05). No relationship between GCIPL and RNFL thicknesses and duration of diabetes was present. CONCLUSIONS. Early thinning on the inner retina happens in type 2 diabetes, even before visible vascular signs of DR. This supports the presence of a neurodegenerative process in eyes of patients with diabetes and warrants neuroprotective intervention to prevent chronic neurodegeneration. The SD-OCT may represent an indispensable tool for identifying early signs of neurodegeneration in diabetic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6333-6338
Number of pages6
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Ganglion cells analysis
  • Idiopathic macular telangiectasia
  • IJRT
  • Mactel
  • Retinal ganglion cells
  • RNFL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Medicine(all)


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