Importance: Presence of predominantly peripheral diabetic retinopathy (DR) lesions on ultra-widefield fluorescein angiography (UWF-FA) was associated with greater risk of DR worsening or treatment over 4 years. Whether baseline retinal nonperfusion assessment is additionally predictive of DR disease worsening is unclear. Objective: To assess whether the extent and location of retinal nonperfusion identified on UWF-FA are associated with worsening in Diabetic Retinopathy Severity Scale (DRSS) score or DR treatment over time. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study was a prospective, multicenter, longitudinal observational study with data for 508 eyes with nonproliferative DR and gradable nonperfusion on UWF-FA at baseline. All images were graded at a centralized reading center; 200° ultra-widefield (UWF) color images were graded for DR at baseline and annually for 4 years. Baseline 200° UWF-FA images were graded for nonperfused area, nonperfusion index (NPI), and presence of predominantly peripheral lesions on UWF-FA (FA PPL). Interventions: Treatment of DR or diabetic macular edema was at investigator discretion. Main Outcomes and Measures: Association of baseline UWF-FA nonperfusion extent with disease worsening, defined as either 2 or more steps of DRSS worsening within Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study fields on UWF-color images or receipt of DR treatment. Results: After adjusting for baseline DRSS, the risk of disease worsening over 4 years was higher in eyes with greater overall NPI (hazard ratio [HR] for 0.1-unit increase, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.02-1.21; P =.02) and NPI within the posterior pole (HR for 0.1-unit increase, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.17-1.56; P <.001) and midperiphery (HR for 0.1-unit increase, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.00-1.16; P =.04). In a multivariable analysis adjusting for baseline DRSS score and baseline systemic risk factors, greater NPI (HR, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.02-1.22; P =.02) and presence of FA PPL (HR, 1.89; 95% CI, 1.35-2.65; P <.001) remained associated with disease worsening. Conclusions and Relevance: This 4-year longitudinal study has demonstrated that both greater baseline retinal nonperfusion and FA PPL on UWF-FA are associated with higher risk of disease worsening, even after adjusting for baseline DRSS score and known systemic risk. These associations between disease worsening and retinal nonperfusion and FA PPL support the increased use of UWF-FA to complement color fundus photography in future efforts for DR prognosis, clinical care, and research.
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