The Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology

Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology:

Issue 6, November/December 2018 Review Article

Fenofibrate for Diabetic Retinopathy

Stewart, Stephen; Lois, Noemi

Author Information

From the *Department of Ophthalmology, The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust; and †Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Reprints: Noemi Lois, Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland. E-mail:


Fenofibrate is a safe and inexpensive orally administered fibric acid derivative conventionally used to treat dyslipidemia. Two large randomized clinical trials, the Fenofibrate Intervention and Event Lowering in Diabetes (FIELD) and the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) studies, demonstrated the benefit of oral fenofibrate in the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes and diabetic retinopathy (DR), including reduced disease progression and need for laser treatment for diabetic macular edema and proliferative diabetic retinopathy. These findings are supported by results of experimental studies, which have demonstrated beneficial effects of fenofibrate ameliorating retinal vascular leakage and leukostasis, downregulating vascular endothelial growth factor, and reducing endothelial cell and pericyte loss, among others; all of these are characteristic features of DR. In spite of this evidence, fenofibrate is not prescribed routinely for treating patients with diabetes and DR. In FIELD and ACCORD studies, retinopathy was not the primary outcome and this may explain, at least partly, its lack of use for this indication. New trials are now underway to specifically address the effects of fenofibrate in DR; these trials will provide additional and robust data that may support current evidence favoring the use of fenofibrate in this common microvascular complication of diabetes.

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