Forty-five participants (15 without diabetes, 15 with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and no DR, 15 with T2D and DR) participated. ipRGC function was inferred from the PIPR (pupil size following stimulus offset). Circadian outputs were melatonin amplitude (overnight urinary 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6s)) and timing (dim light melatonin onset (DLMO)), and evening salivary cortisol levels. Sleep/wake patterns were measured with wrist actigraphy and insomnia symptoms were assessed subjectively.
Patients with T2D and DR had smaller PIPR and lower urinary aMT6s than other groups (p < 0.001). In adjusted regression models, smaller PIPR was associated with lower urinary aMT6s (β = 4.552, p = 0.005). Patients with DR were more likely to have no detectable DLMO (p = 0.049), higher evening salivary cortisol, greater insomnia symptoms and greater sleep variability compared to other groups. Sleep duration, efficiency and rest-activity rhythms were similar.
Reduced ipRGC function in DR is associated with circadian dysregulation and sleep disturbances, although a causal relationship cannot be established in this cross-sectional study. Prospective mechanistic and intervention studies examining circadian and sleep health in these patients are warranted.