In 27 normal subjects and 64 insulin-dependent diabetic patients, we evaluated the pattern electroretinogram, which may reflect the neural activity of the spatially sensitive retinal ganglion cells. The amplitude of the pattern electroretinogram was reduced in diabetic patients who had no observable retinal changes. The amplitude was further reduced with increasing retinopathy. The pattern electroretinogram amplitude change was a more sensitive indicator of retinal change among the diabetic subpopulations than the statistically significant changes in latency. A significant correlation between pattern electroretinogram amplitude and the duration of diabetes were found in diabetic patients with either no observable retinopathy or minimal background retinopathy. The pattern electroretinogram may be useful as a quantitative, dependent variable to establish and monitor short-term metabolic and physiologic changes in diabetic patients.
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