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Clin Exp Optom. 2012 May;95(3):266-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1444-0938.2012.00741.x. Epub 2012 Apr 22.

The role of glia in retinal vascular disease.

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Save Sight Institute, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.


Retinal vascular diseases collectively represent a leading cause of blindness. Unsurprisingly, pathological characterisation and treatment of retinal 'vascular' diseases have primarily focused on the aetiology and consequences of vascular dysfunction. Far less research has addressed the contribution of neuronal and glial dysfunction to the disease process of retinal vascular disorders. Ample evidence now suggests that retinal vasculopathy only uncommonly occurs in isolation, usually existing in concert with neuropathy and gliopathy. Retinal glia (Müller cells, astrocytes and microglia) have been reported to exhibit morphological and functional changes in both early and advanced phases of almost every retinal vascular disease. It is anticipated that identifying the causes of glial activation and dysfunction, and their contribution to loss of vision in retinal vascular disease, will lead to a better understanding of retinal vascular diseases, which might ultimately be translated into novel clinical therapies.

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