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Rosiglitazone May Delay Diabetic Retinopathy Onset

The drug may also slow the loss of visual acuity

THURSDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- Patients treated with rosiglitazone have delayed onset of proliferative diabetic retinopathy and also experience less visual acuity loss, according to a report published in the June issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Lucy Q. Shen, M.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed medical records of 124 patients receiving medical and ophthalmic care at the Joslin Diabetes Center between 2002 and 2003, and 158 controls that had relatively similar baseline characteristics but did not take a glitazone. The patients were followed for a mean of 2.8 years.

In patients who started the study with severe non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (6.4 percent of the rosiglitazone group, 9.3 percent of the control group), progression to proliferative diabetic retinopathy over three years occurred in 19.2 percent of patients on rosiglitazone and 47.4 percent of controls, representing a 59.5 percent relative risk reduction, the researchers report. Visual acuity loss of three or more lines was also less common in the rosiglitazone-treated group, although the two groups had a similar incidence of diabetic macular edema.

In conclusion, the authors cautioned that "because this study does not rigorously prove that rosiglitazone either reduces the incidence of proliferative diabetic retinopathy or prevents loss of visual acuity, and because there may be adverse effects from therapy, rosiglitazone treatment of patients with diabetes specifically to reduce these ophthalmic complications is not advocated at this time."

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