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Diabetic retinopathy

A Corrigendum to this article was published on 07 April 2016

Abstract

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a common complication of diabetes mellitus and is a major cause of vision loss in middle-aged and elderly people. One-third of people with diabetes have DR. Severe stages of DR include proliferative DR, caused by the abnormal growth of new retinal blood vessels, and diabetic macular oedema, in which there is exudation and oedema in the central part of the retina. DR is strongly associated with a prolonged duration of diabetes, hyperglycaemia and hypertension. It is traditionally regarded as a microvascular disease, but retinal neurodegeneration is also involved. Complex interrelated pathophysiological mechanisms triggered by hyperglycaemia underlie the development of DR. These mechanisms include genetic and epigenetic factors, increased production of free radicals, advanced glycosylation end products, inflammatory factors and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Optimal control of blood glucose and blood pressure in individuals with diabetes remains the cornerstone for preventing the development and arresting the progression of DR. Anti-VEGF therapy is currently indicated for diabetic macular oedema associated with vision loss, whereas laser photocoagulation prevents severe vision loss in eyes with proliferative DR. These measures, together with increasing public awareness and access to regular screening for DR with retinal photography, and the development of new treatments to address early disease stages, will lead to better outcomes and prevent blindness for patients with DR.

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Figure 1: Clinical stages and main pathogenetic events of diabetic retinopathy.
Figure 2: Main pathogenetic events in diabetic retinopathy.
Figure 3: Potential mechanisms linking neurodegeneration and microangiopathy in diabetic retinopathy.
Figure 4: Clinical signs of diabetic retinopathy on fundoscopic examination.
Figure 5: Optical coherence tomography showing treatment outcomes for diabetic macular oedema.
Figure 6: Management of diabetic macular oedema.
Figure 7: Time trade-off technique to evaluate quality of life.

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Acknowledgements

This paper was supported by a National Medical Research Council Grant (STaR Award 2013).

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Introduction (T.Y.W.); Epidemiology (T.Y.W.); Mechanisms/pathophysiology (R.S.); Diagnosis, screening and prevention (M.L.); Management (C.M.G.C.); Quality of life (S.S.); Outlook (S.S.); overview of Primer (T.Y.W.).

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Correspondence to Tien Y. Wong.

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Competing interests

T.Y.W. is on advisory boards for Abbott, Allergan, Bayer, Novartis, Pfizer and Solvay, and has received travel, honoraria and research support from these companies. He has no stocks, equity, contract of employment or named positions on company boards. C.M.G.C. is on advisory boards for Allergan, Bayer and Novartis, and has received travel, honoraria and research support from these companies. She has no stocks, equity, contract of employment or named positions on company boards. M.L. is on advisory boards for Allergan, Bayer and Novartis, and has received travel, honoraria and research support from these companies. He has no stocks, equity, contract of employment or named positions on company boards. S.S. has served on advisory boards for Allergan, Alcon, Novartis, Pfizer, Bayer and eSight. He has received travel, honoraria or research support from these companies. He has no stocks, equity, contract of employment or named positions on company boards. R.S. is on advisory boards of Allergan, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly and Company. In addition, he has received travel and research support from Abbott, Sanofi-Aventis and Astra Zeneca. He has no stocks, equity, contract of employment or named positions on company boards.

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Wong, T., Cheung, C., Larsen, M. et al. Diabetic retinopathy. Nat Rev Dis Primers 2, 16012 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrdp.2016.12

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