The retina: Oxidative stress and diabetes

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Journal Article
Redox Report, 2003, 8 (4), pp. 187 - 192
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A prominent and early feature of the retinopathy of diabetes mellitus is a diffuse increase in vascular permeability. As the disease develops, the development of frank macular oedema may result in vision loss. That reactive oxygen species production is likely to be elevated in the retina, and that certain regions of the retina are enriched in substrates for lipid peroxidation, may create an environment susceptible to oxidative damage. This may be more so in the diabetic retina, where hyperglycaemia may lead to elevated oxidant production by a number of mechanisms, including the production of oxidants by vascular endothelium and leukocytes. There is substantial evidence from animal and clinical studies for both impaired antioxidant defences and increased oxidative damage in the retinae of diabetic subjects that have been, in the case of animal studies, reversible with antioxidant supplementation. Whether oxidative damage has a causative role in the pathology of diabetic retinopathy, and thus whether antioxidants can prevent or correct any retinal damage, has not been established, nor has the specific nature of any damaging species been characterised.
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