Retinal tissue receives its supply of oxygen from two sources - the retinal and choroidal circulations. Decreases in retinal blood flow occur in the early stages of diabetes, with the eventual development of hypoxia thought to contribute to pathological neovascularization. Oxygen consumption in the retina has been found to decrease in diabetes, possibly due to either a reduction in neuronal metabolism or to cell death. Diabetes also enhances the rate of conversion of oxygen to superoxide in the retina, with experimental evidence suggesting that mitochondrial superoxide not only drives the overall production of reactive oxygen species, but also initiates several pathways leading to retinopathy, including the increased activity of the polyol and hexosamine pathways, increased production of advanced glycation end products and expression of their receptors, and activation of protein kinase C.
Keywords: Diabetes; Oxidative stress; Oxygen; Retina; Superoxide.