The unique vascular supply of the retina, the ability to visualize the vasculature in vivo, and the ability to selectively express genes in the retina make the retina an ideal model system to study molecular mechanisms of angiogenesis. In addition, this area of investigation has great clinical significance, because retinal and choroidal neovascularization are the most common causes of severe visual loss in developed countries and new treatments are needed. As a result, interest in ocular neovascularization is rapidly growing and there has been considerable recent progress. Use of genetically engineered mice in recently developed murine models provides a means to investigate the role of individual gene products in neovascularization in two distinct vascular beds, the retinal vasculature and the choroidal vasculature. It appears that angiogenesis in different vascular beds has common themes, but also has tissue-specific aspects. This review summarizes recent progress in the field of ocular neovascularization and the prospects that it provides for the development of new treatments.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.