This study aimed to explore differences in vascular and structural parameters using optical coherence tomography angiography in patients with type 1 diabetes (DM1) with mild signs of diabetic retinopathy (DR) over a two-year follow-up period. Parafoveal vessel density (PVD) and foveal avascular zone (FAZ) area were analyzed. The thickness of three predefined retinal slabs was measured, including the inner limiting membrane (ILM)–inner plexiform layer (IPL), IPL–inner nuclear layer (INL), and the IPL–outer nuclear layer (ONL). Twenty-two patients with DM1 and 21 controls were included. There was no significant difference in the FAZ area, perimeter and acircularity index between cohorts over time. Baseline superficial capillary plexus PVD was approximately 10% lower in patients with diabetes than in controls (p = 0.001), and was 12% lower at 2 years (p = 0.002). There was no difference in the annual linear trend between the groups (− 0.5% in diabetics vs. controls, p = 0.736). Baseline deep capillary plexus (DCP) PVD was slightly lower in diabetics than in controls (− 4.4%, p = 0.047) and the difference increased at 2 years (− 12.6%, p < 0.001). The annual linear trend was − 2.7% in diabetic patients compared to controls (p = 0.009). In addition, the PVD of the DCP and the intermediate capillary plexus (ICP) were evaluated separately. Regarding the DCP PVD, no statistically significant difference at any time points in diabetic patients compared to controls and no statistically significant difference in the linear trend was found (p > 0.1). Conversely, no difference was recorded for parafoveal ICP density at individual time points (p > 0.1), but a statistically significant difference in the linear trend over time in diabetic patients compared to controls was recoded (− 3.2% per year, p = 0.001). Despite the apparent intergroup differences at baseline in structural OCT parameters, the differences including ILM–IPL (p = 0.273), IPL–INL (p = 0.708), and IPL–ONL (p = 0.054) were modest and not statistically significant with time. Therefore, the microvascular change of the deeper vessels might be a robust biomarker to evaluate the clinical progression of DR in DM1.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research for this paper was financially supported by Italian Ministry of Health and Fondazione Roma.
© 2020, The Author(s).
Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
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