Objective: Growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-I have been implicated as strong promoters of proliferative diabetic retinopathy. We studied reduction of bleeding and preservation of visual acuity by treatment with the long-acting somatostatin analogue, octreotide, in diabetic patients at an advanced stage of proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
Research design and methods: Randomized trial in a University hospital setting. Reading ophthalmologists were masked for octreotide use, diabetologists were aware of that treatment. Nine patients received 100 microg tid octreotide (verum) subcutaneously for a maximum of 36 months. Nine diabetics served as controls, no placebo treatment was used. Episodes of vitreous hemorrhages were counted, measurement of visual acuity, estimation of neovascularization by stereoscopic fundus photography and fluorescein angiography were carried out.
Results: After 3 years of treatment, the incidence of vitreous hemorrhages and the need for vitreoretinal surgery was significantly lower (log rank test p = 0.002) in the octreotide-treated patients. Visual acuity was preserved and significantly better in the octreotide treated group compared to controls (p = 0.05).
Conclusions: In diabetics with high-risk proliferative retinopathy after full scatter laser coagulation, octreotide reduced the number of vitreous hemorrhages, preserving visual acuity.