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Tight diabetes control can help you ward off blindness

Woman Performing Blood Test on HerselfYou can protect your vision from the effects of diabetes by intensively controlling your blood sugar level, according to a recent study.

People with type 2 diabetes — who intensively controlled their blood sugar level during the landmark Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) Trial Eye Study — were found to have cut their risk of diabetic retinopathy in half in a follow-up analysis conducted four years after stopping intensive therapy.

Lead author Emily Chew said that this study sends a powerful message to people with type 2 diabetes who worry about losing vision and added that well-controlled glycemia or blood sugar level has a positive, measurable and lasting effect on eye health.

Tight control successfully reduced glycemia to an average 6.4 per cent A1C — a measure of average blood glucose — compared to 7.7 per cent among participants on standard glycemic control therapy.  Although it failed to reduce cardiovascular disease risk — such as heart attack and stroke — the researchers found that the therapy had cut retinopathy progression by about one-third by the end of ACCORD. Results also point to a possible role for ongoing use of fenofibrate to treat diabetic retinopathy, if taken regularly.

Based on ACCORD findings, fenofibrate might be worth taking to control diabetic retinopathy progression. Other countries — including Australia — have approved fenofibrate for treating diabetic retinopathy but not the US, said Chew.

The study appeared in the journal Diabetes Care.