Diabetic choroidal and iris vasculature scanning electron microscopy findings

Int Ophthalmol. 1989 Jul;13(4):269-79. doi: 10.1007/BF02280087.


Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) was used to study vascular casts of twenty-four autopsy eyes taken from patients with long-standing insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus. These casts were compared to casts of ten 'normal' autopsy eyes from patients without a history of diabetes or other vascular disease. The SEM findings in the choroidal vessels of the diabetic eyes included: increased tortuosity, focal vascular dilations and narrowings, hypercellularity, vascular loops and microaneurysm formation, 'drop-out' of choriocapillaries, and sinus-like structure formation between choroidal lobules in the equatorial area. In the iris, neovascularization was evident in the vascular casts in cases with clinically recognized rubeosis iridis. These findings indicate that there is significant involvement of the uveal tract in diabetic eyes. The present study strongly supports the Hidayat and Fine light microscopic observation that the diabetic choroid demonstrates significant vascular changes (e.g. narrowed vessels with possible 'drop-out' of capillaries and neovascularization). Changes in the diabetic choroid, especially in the choriocapillaris, may be a contributing factor in diabetic retinopathy, resulting in decreased oxygenation of the outer layer of the retina. Short reviews and updated information of diabetic eye disease provide some additional insights into the vascular problems in the eye.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Choroid / blood supply*
  • Choroid / ultrastructure
  • Ciliary Body / blood supply
  • Ciliary Body / ultrastructure
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iris / blood supply*
  • Iris / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Retina / ultrastructure
  • Retinal Vessels / ultrastructure*