In insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, institution of good glycemic control has been shown to retard development of retinopathy even though temporary progression has occurred. Few data have been available from patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). To determine the impact of improved glycemic control on retinopathy in patients with NIDDM, we examined, in a case-control study, the progression of retinopathy in 94 patients who changed treatment from oral antihyperglycemic agents to insulin.


We used the Wisconsin retinopathy scale and related progression of retinopathy during a 2-year observation period to changes in HbA1c after institution of insulin therapy.


Progression of retinopathy ≥3 levels occurred in 23% of the patients and was significantly more common in the patient group in which HbA1c was lowered ≥3% compared with progression in the group in which HbA1c was lowered <3% (P = 0.0001; relative risk 3.2; 95% confidence interval 1.5–6.9).


Improved glycemic control as achieved by insulin therapy may be associated with worsening of retinopathy in patients with NIDDM.

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