The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) demonstrated that a mean of 6.5 years of intensive therapy aimed at near-normal glucose levels reduced the risk of development and progression of retinopathy by as much as 76% compared with conventional therapy. The Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications study (EDIC) observational follow-up showed that the risk of further progression of retinopathy 4 years after the DCCT ended was also greatly reduced in the former intensive group, despite nearly equivalent levels of HbA1c, a phenomenon termed metabolic memory. Metabolic memory was shown to persist through 10 years of follow-up. We now describe the risk of further progression of retinopathy, progression to proliferative diabetic retinopathy, clinically significant macular edema, and the need for intervention (photocoagulation or anti-VEGF) over 18 years of follow-up in EDIC. The cumulative incidence of each retinal outcome continues to be lower in the former intensive group. However, the year-to-year incidence of these outcomes is now similar, owing in large part to a reduction in risk in the former conventional treatment group.
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