Pass the bread and brie. A new study reports diets that include whole-meal bread and cheese may reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy (DR) progression.

Researchers evaluated the association of diet and the 10-year incidence of diabetic retinopathy progression in 8,122 Australians with diabetes. The study used data from the 45 and Up study, which included records of diabetic patients aged 45 to 65, looking at baseline health status and subsequent findings from insurance claims through 2016.

Investigators used retinal photocoagulation as the measure of DR progression, and patients filled out questionnaires on their consumption of meat, dairy products, whole-meal bread, breakfast cereal, vegetables, fruit and fruit juice.

At about the nine-year mark during long-term follow-up, 314 participants (3.8% of baseline) received retinal photocoagulation, the study noted. Additionally, investigators reported a higher consumption of cheese and whole-meal bread was associated with a lower risk of incident retinal photocoagulation. Body mass index, insulin treatment and gender were significant modifiers for the association between cheese/whole-meal bread and retinal photocoagulation, they added.

“Consumption of cheese and whole-meal bread could reduce the risk of DR progression among the working-aged Australian population with diabetes,” the researchers wrote in their paper. 

Yan X, Han X, Wu C, et al. Does daily dietary intake affect diabetic retinopathy progression? 10-year results from the 45 and Up Study. Br J Ophthalmol. February 22, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].