Background: Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is an important complication of
diabetes and is considered one of the main causes of blindness in moderate-income
and highly-developed countries. As it is a major socioeconomic problem, defining all
mechanisms that may lead to DR development is of great importance. In the 21st
century diabetic lesions occurring in the retina are well known. However what kind of
retinal neuronal damage occurs in the course of diabetes remains unclear.
Results: In this manuscript we present the most recent knowledge about suggested
mechanisms of diabetic retinopathy, including neuroretinal apoptosis. Getting a deep
insight into the role of apoptosis and degeneration of retinal neurons leading to DR
will have vital consequences.
Conclusion: The findings of this review confirm that it is very likely that in the nearest future diabetic
retinopathy treatment will be based on administration of neuroprotective agents. The implementation of
neuroprotective drugs may slow down retinopathy progression, making it possible to avoid the currently
used therapeutic procedures, such as laser photocoagulation, intravitreous injections or posterior
vitrectomy, which are not only risky for the healthy part of the retina but also relatively expensive.