Characteristics of retinal structural and microvascular alterations in early type 2 diabetic patients

Qi Chen, Fan Tan, Yufei Wu, Xiran Zhuang, Chaoming Wu, Yuheng Zhou, Yingzi Li, Dan Cheng, Jianhua Wang, Fan Lu, Meixiao Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To investigate early retinal structural and microvascular changes in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) and to analyze relationships among the retinal structure, microvasculature, and choroid. METHODS. Seventy-seven patients with type 2 DM (40 with no diabetic retinopathy [DR], 37 with nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy [NPDR]), and 34 control subjects were enrolled. Spectral-domain optical coherence tomography, operating in radial 18-line mode, obtained macular images of the eight intraretinal layers and the choroid. The same system was equipped with Angiovue to obtain angiography images of the whole, superficial, and deep retinal capillary layers (WRCL, SRCL, and DRCL) in a 3-mm-diameter area around the macula. Algorithms quantified the thicknesses of the intraretinal layers and choroid as well as fractal dimensions (Dbox values) of the retinal capillary layers. Pearson’s correlation was used to analyze the relationships. RESULTS. The choroidal thickness was significantly decreased in all the regions of the DM patients with no DR (P < 0.05). Compared to controls, the Dbox values of the SRCL and DRCL were significantly decreased in diabetic patients with no DR; however, only the nerve fiber layer in this group was slightly thinner than in the controls (P < 0.05). In the two diabetic groups, there was a weak correlation between the ganglion cell complex thickness and the SRCL (P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS. In DM, changes of retinal microvasculature might occur earlier than changes in retinal structure. Thinning of the choroid may be the earliest sign in the diabetic patients with no clinical DR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2110-2118
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Diabetic mellitus
  • Fractals
  • Microvasculature
  • Optical coherence tomography angiography
  • Retina
  • Thickness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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