Retinal fluorescein angiography was performed in 150 subjects: 64 with normal fasting blood glucose and normal oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), 49 with borderline, and 37 with decreased OGTT. Microaneurysms were noted in only two subjects, both with decreased OGTT. Minute changes in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) were seen in 23% of the 64 normal persons, in 35% of those with borderline, and 49% of those with decreased OGTT (p less than 0.05). The impact of glucose intolerance was more pronounced in subjects under the age of 50 years, RPE changes being rare (7%) in those with normal OGTT but occurring in 32% of those with borderline or decreased OGTT (p less than 0.01). The corresponding figures among subjects aged 50 or more were 55% and 57%, respectively. We conclude that at least half of the subjects above 50 years show RPE alterations, and that minimal changes in glucose metabolism may precipitate the development of such changes at an earlier age.
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