Objective: To review the natural history and treatment indications for diabetic retinopathy.
Research design and methods: Studies of the natural history of diabetic retinopathy and major clinical trials sponsored by the National Eye Institute were reviewed.
Results: Diabetic retinopathy remains a leading cause of vision disability in the U.S. Vision loss results from the consequences of proliferative retinopathy or macular edema. Photocoagulation has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for these complications of diabetes.
Conclusions: All people with diabetes should be evaluated regularly to determine whether they would benefit from photocoagulation. As a referral guideline, any person with type I diabetes of > 5 yr duration and all people with type II diabetes or any retinopathy should be referred to an ophthalmologist.