Association of Metformin with the Development of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Amitha Domalpally, Samuel A. Whittier, Qing Pan, Dana M. Dabelea, Christine H. Darwin, William C. Knowler, Christine G. Lee, Jose A. Luchsinger, Neil H. White, Emily Y. Chew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Importance: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness with no treatment available for early stages. Retrospective studies have shown an association between metformin and reduced risk of AMD. Objective: To investigate the association between metformin use and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Design, Setting, and Participants: The Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study is a cross-sectional follow-up phase of a large multicenter randomized clinical trial, Diabetes Prevention Program (1996-2001), to investigate the association of treatment with metformin or an intensive lifestyle modification vs placebo with preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes in a population at high risk for developing diabetes. Participants with retinal imaging at a follow-up visit 16 years posttrial (2017-2019) were included. Analysis took place between October 2019 and May 2022. Interventions: Participants were randomly distributed between 3 interventional arms: lifestyle, metformin, and placebo. Main Outcomes and Measures: Prevalence of AMD in the treatment arms. Results: Of 1592 participants, 514 (32.3%) were in the lifestyle arm, 549 (34.5%) were in the metformin arm, and 529 (33.2%) were in the placebo arm. All 3 arms were balanced for baseline characteristics including age (mean [SD] age at randomization, 49 [9] years), sex (1128 [71%] male), race and ethnicity (784 [49%] White), smoking habits, body mass index, and education level. AMD was identified in 479 participants (30.1%); 229 (14.4%) had early AMD, 218 (13.7%) had intermediate AMD, and 32 (2.0%) had advanced AMD. There was no significant difference in the presence of AMD between the 3 groups: 152 (29.6%) in the lifestyle arm, 165 (30.2%) in the metformin arm, and 162 (30.7%) in the placebo arm. There was also no difference in the distribution of early, intermediate, and advanced AMD between the intervention groups. Mean duration of metformin use was similar for those with and without AMD (mean [SD], 8.0 [9.3] vs 8.5 [9.3] years; P =.69). In the multivariate models, history of smoking was associated with increased risks of AMD (odds ratio, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.05-1.61; P =.02). Conclusions and Relevance: These data suggest neither metformin nor lifestyle changes initiated for diabetes prevention were associated with the risk of any AMD, with similar results for AMD severity. Duration of metformin use was also not associated with AMD. This analysis does not address the association of metformin with incidence or progression of AMD..

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-147
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Ophthalmology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 16 2023


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