Pathogenesis of Diabetic Retinopathy

  1. Ronald L Engerman
  1. Department of Ophthalmology, University of Wisconsin Madison, Wisconsin
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Ronald L. Engerman, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Wisconsin, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, Wl 53706.

Abstract

Diabetic retinopathy involves anatomic changes in retinal vessels and neuroglia. The pathogenetic mechanism responsible for retinopathy is imperfectly understood, but much of the mechanism is apparently reproduced by experimental diabetes in animals and by chronic elevation of blood galactose in nondiabetic animals. The evidence that retinopathy is a consequence of excessive blood sugars and their sequelae is consistent with a demonstrated inhibition of retinopathy by strict glycemic control in diabetic dogs. However, retinopathy in the dog model has shown a tendency to resist intervention by strict control. Biochemical and pathophysiological sequelae of hyperglycemia possibly critical to the development of retinopathy in humans and animal models are being studied in many laboratories. Retinopathy occurs in experimental galactosemia in the absence of the renal hypertrophy, mesangial expansion, and glomerular obliteration typical of diabetes in humans and dogs, implying that retinopathy and nephropathydiffer appreciably in pathogenesis.

  • Received May 24, 1989.
  • Accepted June 6, 1989.
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