Retinal changes mimicking diabetic retinopathy in two nondiabetic, growth hormone-treated patients

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998 Jul;83(7):2380-3. doi: 10.1210/jcem.83.7.4953.


A role for GH in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy has long been postulated. Previous clinical studies, however, have been confounded by hyperglycemia. We have identified 2 cases of retinopathy associated with exogenous GH therapy in nondiabetic patients. Cases were identified through the MedWatch drug surveillance system of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Causality by concomitant medications was excluded by a search of the literature and the FDA data base. The first patient, an obese, 31-yr-old male with traumatic hypothalamic injury, presented with nonproliferative retinopathy and macular edema, resulting in decreased visual acuity (OD 20/40-1; OS count fingers), which required laser surgery. Human GH had been initiated at 0.009 mg/, 14 months earlier, and titrated to 0.017 mg/ The second patient, a nonobese, 11-yr-old girl receiving GH for the management of short stature in Turner's Syndrome, presented with neovascularization. GH doses were 0.033 mg/ for the first 17 months and 0.043 mg/ for the following 5 months. Cumulative laboratory and clinical observations suggest that GH and related peptides have a role in retinal pathology independent of the degree of glucose tolerance.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retina / drug effects*
  • Retina / pathology


  • Growth Hormone