Diabetic retinopathy is a disorder of the retina that eventually develops to some degree in nearly all patients with long-standing diabetes mellitus. While defects in neurosensory function have been demonstrated in patients with diabetes mellitus prior to the onset of vascular lesions, the earliest visible clinical manifestations of retinopathy include microaneurysms and hemorrhages. Vascular alterations can progress to retinal capillary nonperfusion, resulting in a clinical picture characterized by increased numbers of hemorrhages, venous abnormalities, and intraretinal microvascular abnormalities (IRMA). A later stage includes closure of arterioles and venules and proliferation of new vessels on the disc, retina, iris, and filtration angle. Increased vasopermeability results in retinal thickening (edema) during the course of diabetic retinopathy. Visual loss results mainly from macular edema, macular capillary nonperfusion, vitreous hemorrhage, and distortion or traction detachment of the retina.

The primary purpose of evaluating and managing diabetic retinopathy is to prevent, retard, or reverse visual loss, thereby maintaining or improving vision-related quality of life.

“Diabetic Retinopathy PPP (Preferred Practice Pattern).” Preferred Practice Pattern Guidelines: American Academy of Ophthalmology. AAO Retina/ Vitreous PPP Panel, Hoskins Center for Quality Eye Care. The American Academy of Ophthalmology, Oct. 2012. Web. 06 Aug. 2013.