Diabetes mellitus has become a major health concern worldwide and its incidence is projected to increase. Diabetic macular edema (DME) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) are considered the most sight-threatening ocular complications in these patients. Pivotal studies, such as the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) and the Diabetic Retinopathy Study (DRS), have established macular and pan-retinal laser as the gold-standard of treatment for these complications. The recent discovery of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its role in the development of proliferative disease, has led to a movement towards treating PDR and DME with anti-angiogenic medications alone or in conjunction with the gold-standard of care. Due to the severity of the diabetic ocular complications and the rising incidence of diabetes worldwide, it is important for the non-ophthalmologist care provider to be informed of the new treatments available for these conditions in an effort to better guide their patients. In this review, I will discuss the importance of these new methods of treatment as well as the significance of systemic glucose control, vitreous surgery and laser photocoagulation.
Keywords: Diabetic retinopathy, diabetic ocular complications, diabetic eye, proliferative diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, retinal photocoagulation, angiogenesis, neovascularization, ranibizumab, bevacizuamb, pegaptanib, VEGF inhibitors