Children with Type I diabetes live with a lifelong threat to their vision. The chronic condition could lead to proliferative retinopathy at any time, and the best way to preserve their visual health is to diagnose it at the earliest signs, when the condition is still in the nonproliferative phase—or even earlier.

That’s where a new study in Clinical Experimental Optometry comes into play. The publication from a Turkish team of investigators shows that macular and retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness measurements on spectral-domain optical coherence tomography might reveal early stages of diabetic retinopathy. These changes may be present in diabetic eyes before clinically detectable vasculopathy presents, the study says.

The study looked at 73 children with Type I diabetes and 62 without it. The diabetes cohort had significantly thinner macular findings—by a variety of measurements—and thinner RNFLs than their non-diabetic counterparts. The researchers also found that the mean HbA1c values were inversely correlated with the mean temporal outer macular thickness and global RNFL thickness measurements in the patients with diabetes.

Tekin K, Inanc M, Kurnaz E, et al. Quantitative evaluation of early retinal changes in children with type 1 diabetes mellitus without retinopathy. Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2018;101(5)680-5.