Increased retinal blood flow velocity in patients with early diabetes mellitus

Zvia Burgansky-Eliash*, Adiel Barak, Hila Barash, Darin A. Nelson, Orly Pupko, Anat Lowenstein, Amiram Grinvald, Ardon Rubinstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To compare retinal blood flow velocity in small vessels of patients with early diabetes mellitus (DM), without any morphologic changes related to diabetic retinopathy, with that in a control group. METHODS: The authors used the retinal function imager to measure blood flow velocities, from many small vessels, simultaneously. Twenty-three eyes of 14 patients with early DM and 51 eyes of 31 healthy subjects were enrolled. Differences between the patients and the control group were assessed by mixed linear models. RESULTS: Venous average velocity significantly increased in the DM group (3.8 ± 1.2 vs. 2.9 ± 0.5 mm/second, P < 0.0001) than in the healthy subjects. Arterial velocity of DM patients was also significantly higher (4.7 ± 1.7 vs. 4.1 ± 0.9 mm/second, P = 0.03). There was no statistically significant difference between groups in age, gender, heart rate, and systolic blood pressure. The diastolic blood pressure in the DM patients was lower than that in the healthy group (P = 0.03). CONCLUSION: There was an increase in arterial and venous retinal blood flow velocities of patients with early DM with no diabetic retinopathy. These findings support the notion that abnormalities in vessel function exist in diabetic eyes before the development of structural changes. This noninvasive approach facilitated the assessment of early hemodynamic abnormalities and may assist in screening and monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-119
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • diabetes mellitus
  • diabetic retinopathy
  • imaging
  • retinal blood flow velocity


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