Purpose: To study the factors that may affect reading speed in patients with diabetic macular edema previously treated with laser photocoagulation.
Methods: Consecutive patients with type II diabetes treated with laser photocoagulation for diabetic macular edema (DME) at least twelve months previously, with best corrected visual acuity of better than 65 letters (approximately 20/40) measured with Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) charts were included in this study. Patients previously treated with pan-retinal photocoagulation, vitrectomy, intravitreal steroid or anti-VEGF therapy were excluded. Any other ocular co-morbidities that may influence reading ability such as cataract, glaucoma or macular degeneration were also excluded. All patients were refracted by a certified examiner, the following measurements were collected: best corrected visual acuity (BCVA), contrast sensitivity with Pelli-Robson chart, reading speed with MNREAD chart, microperimetry with Nidek MP1, and central subfield thickness with Zeiss spectral domain optical coherent topography.
Results: The slow reading group had poorer contrast sensitivity (p = 0.001), reduced retinal sensitivity (p = 0.027) and less stable fixation (p = 0.013). Most interestingly the reduced retinal sensitivity findings were driven by the microperimetry value on the right subfield (p = 0.033), (nasal to the fovea in the right eye and temporal to the fovea in the left eye). Multiple linear regression analysis showed that contrast sensitivity is probably the most important factor that affects reading speed (p = 0.001).
Conclusion: Reduced retinal sensitivity after laser treatment is associated with reduced reading speed in patients with diabetic macular edema.