To determine whether interventions that slow or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in those at risk reduce the subsequent prevalence of diabetic retinopathy.


The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) randomized subjects at risk for developing type 2 diabetes because of overweight/obesity and dysglycemia to metformin (MET), intensive lifestyle intervention (ILS), or placebo (PLB) to assess the prevention of diabetes. During the DPP and DPP Outcome Study (DPPOS), we performed fundus photography over time on study participants, regardless of their diabetes status. Fundus photographs were graded using the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study grading system, with diabetic retinopathy defined as typical lesions of diabetic retinopathy (microaneurysms, exudates, or hemorrhage, or worse) in either eye.


Despite reduced progression to diabetes in the ILS and MET groups compared with PLB, there was no difference in the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy between treatment groups after 1, 5, 11, or 16 years of follow-up. No treatment group differences in retinopathy were found within prespecified subgroups (baseline age, sex, race/ethnicity, baseline BMI). In addition, there was no difference in the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy between those exposed to metformin and those not exposed to metformin, regardless of treatment group assignment.


Interventions that delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes in overweight/obese subjects with dysglycemia who are at risk for diabetes do not reduce the development of diabetic retinopathy for up to 20 years.

N.H.W. served as chair of the writing group.

Clinical trial reg. no. NCT00004992 and NCT00038727, clinicaltrials.gov

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.19638765.


A complete list of the Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group can be found in the supplementary material online.

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