Assessment of retinal structure and visual function in association with diabetic peripheral neuropathy

Moaven-Shahidi, Ayda (2011) Assessment of retinal structure and visual function in association with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Diabetes is an increasingly prevalent disease worldwide. Providing early management of the complications can prevent morbidity and mortality in this population. Peripheral neuropathy, a significant complication of diabetes, is the major cause of foot ulceration and amputation in diabetes. Delay in attending to complication of the disease contributes to significant medical expenses for diabetic patients and the community.

Early structural changes to the neural components of the retina have been demonstrated to occur prior to the clinically visible retinal vasculature complication of diabetic retinopathy. Additionally visual functionloss has been shown to exist before the ophthalmoscopic manifestations of vasculature damage. The purpose of this thesis was to evaluate the relationship between diabetic peripheral neuropathy and both retinal structure and visual function. The key question was whether diabetic peripheral neuropathy is the potential underlying factor responsible for retinal anatomical change and visual functional loss in people with diabetes.

This study was conducted on a cohort with type 2 diabetes. Retinal nerve fibre layer thickness was assessed by means of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). Visual function was assessed using two different methods; Standard Automated Perimetry (SAP) and flicker perimetry were performed within the central 30 degrees of fixation. The level of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) was assessed using two techniques - Quantitative Sensory Testing and Neuropathy Disability Score (NDS). These techniques are known to be capable of detecting DPN at very early stages. NDS has also been shown as a gold standard for detecting 'risk of foot ulceration'.

Findings reported in this thesis showed that RNFL thickness, particularly in the inferior quadrant, has a significant association with severity of DPN when the condition has been assessed using NDS. More specifically it was observed that inferior RNFL thickness has the ability to differentiate individuals who are at higher risk of foot ulceration from those who are at lower risk, indicating that RNFL thickness can predict late-staged DPN. Investigating the association between RNFL and QST did not show any meaningful interaction, which indicates that RNFL thickness for this cohort was not as predictive of neuropathy status as NDS. In both of these studies, control participants did not have different results from the type 2 cohort who did not DPN suggesting that RNFL thickness is not a marker for diagnosing DPN at early stages. The latter finding also indicated that diabetes per se, is unlikely to affect the RNFL thickness.

Visual function as measured by SAP and flicker perimetry was found to be associated with severity of peripheral neuropathy as measured by NDS. These findings were also capable of differentiating individuals at higher risk of foot ulceration; however, visual function also proved not to be a maker for early diagnosis of DPN. It was found that neither SAP, nor flicker sensitivity have meaningful associations with DPN when neuropathy status was measured using QST.

Importantly diabetic retinopathy did not explain any of the findings in these experiments. The work described here is valuable as no other research to date has investigated the association between diabetic peripheral neuropathy and either retinal structure or visual function.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

198 since deposited on 28 Sep 2011
11 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 46227
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Efron, Nathan, Pritchard, Nicola, & Sampson, Geoff
Keywords: diabetes, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, neuropathy disability score, quantitative sensory testing, retinal nerve fibre layer, optical coherence tomography, visual function, standard automated perimetry, flicker sensitivity
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 28 Sep 2011 02:52
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:45

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page