Intensive diabetes therapy and ocular surgery in type 1 diabetes

N Engl J Med. 2015 Apr 30;372(18):1722-33. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1409463.


Background: The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) showed a beneficial effect of 6.5 years of intensive glycemic control on retinopathy in patients with type 1 diabetes.

Methods: Between 1983 and 1989, a total of 1441 patients with type 1 diabetes in the DCCT were randomly assigned to receive either intensive diabetes therapy or conventional therapy aimed at preventing hyperglycemic symptoms. They were treated and followed until 1993. Subsequently, 1375 of these patients were followed in the observational Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC) study. The self-reported history of ocular surgical procedures was obtained annually. We evaluated the effect of intensive therapy as compared with conventional therapy on the incidence and cost of ocular surgery during these two studies.

Results: Over a median follow-up of 23 years, 130 ocular operations were performed in 63 of 711 patients assigned to intensive therapy (8.9%) and 189 ocular operations in 98 of 730 patients assigned to conventional therapy (13.4%) (P<0.001). After adjustment for DCCT baseline factors, intensive therapy was associated with a reduction in the risk of any diabetes-related ocular surgery by 48% (95% confidence interval [CI], 29 to 63; P<0.001) and a reduction in the risk of all such ocular procedures by 37% (95% CI, 12 to 55; P=0.01). Forty-two patients who received intensive therapy and 61 who received conventional therapy underwent cataract extraction (adjusted risk reduction with intensive therapy, 48%; 95% CI, 23 to 65; P=0.002); 29 patients who received intensive therapy and 50 who received conventional therapy underwent vitrectomy, retinal-detachment surgery, or both (adjusted risk reduction, 45%; 95% CI, 12 to 66; P=0.01). The costs of surgery were 32% lower in the intensive-therapy group. The beneficial effects of intensive therapy were fully attenuated after adjustment for mean glycated hemoglobin levels over the entire follow-up.

Conclusions: Intensive therapy in patients with type 1 diabetes was associated with a substantial reduction in the long-term risk of ocular surgery. (Funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and others; DCCT/EDIC numbers, NCT00360893 and NCT00360815.).

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cataract / etiology
  • Cataract Extraction
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glaucoma / etiology
  • Glaucoma / surgery*
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures / economics
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Vitrectomy / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin

Associated data