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.