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The LENS trial has demonstrated that fenofibrate, a drug usually used to lower cholesterol, reduces the risk of progression of diabetic retinopathy by 27%. The results were announced today at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions and published in NEJM Evidence.

Patient undergoing an eye examination © Getty Images (Zorica Nastasic)

Diabetes can cause damage to the small blood vessels at the back of the eye, a condition called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is among the top five causes of visual loss worldwide and the only major cause to increase in recent decades.

Fenofibrate is a tablet that has been used to lower cholesterol for more than 30 years. Previous results from sub-studies of trials looking into treatments for heart disease had suggested that fenofibrate might be able to slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy but more conclusive results were needed.

Coordinated by Nuffield Department of Population Health, the LENS (Lowering Events in Non-proliferative retinopathy in Scotland) trial compared the effects of fenofibrate with a placebo (dummy tablet) on the progression of retinopathy in 1,151 adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes in Scotland as part of the national routine diabetic eye screening programme. All of the participants had early to moderate diabetic retinopathy when they joined the trial.

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website