Diabetic papillopathy: current and new treatment options

Curr Diabetes Rev. 2011 May;7(3):171-5. doi: 10.2174/157339911795843122.


Diabetes mellitus is a growing global epidemic. Patients with this disease present with a variety of health conditions, including a number of ocular complications that threaten vision, such as proliferative diabetic retinopathy and macular edema. Diabetic papillopathy, another potential ocular complication from diabetes, is a self-limiting, sometimes bilateral disease that may affect both type 1 and type 2 diabetics. It is characterized by optic disc swelling caused by vascular leakage and axonal edema in and around the optic nerve head. Occasionally, it may be accompanied by intraretinal hemorrhages and hard exudates. Diabetic papillopathy tends to be mild and is usually associated with good visual prognosis; however, there are some cases in which permanent visual impairment can develop. The pathogenesis remains largely unknown, but there has been evidence suggestive of its associations with a small cup/disc ratio and rapid reduction in glycemia. There is no validated therapy for diabetic papillopathy; however, current case reports have shown promising results after local injections of corticosteroids as well as bevacizumab (Avastin), a potent monoclonal antibody that has been employed for the treatment of ocular vaso-proliferative diseases such as choroidal neovascular membranes associated with age-related macular degeneration and proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / pathology
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / therapy
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / pathology
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / therapy*
  • Endocrinology / methods
  • Endocrinology / trends*
  • Humans
  • Optic Disk / pathology*
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / pathology
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / physiopathology
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / therapy*