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Ophthalmology. 1985 Apr;92(4):512-22.

Diabetic choroidopathy. Light and electron microscopic observations of seven cases.


The choroid of seven young patients (ages 20-29 years), who had had diabetes mellitus for many years (14-23 years) was studied by light and electron microscopy. The eight enucleated eyes were blind and painful as a complication of diabetes mellitus. Histopathologically, the choriocapillaris and other small choroidal blood vessels disclosed marked basement membrane thickening of their walls. Periodic acid-Schiff-positive homogeneous acellular nodules were present and resembled those of diabetic glomerulosclerosis (Kimmelsteil-Wilson disease). Some choroidal arteries were arteriosclerotic. Choroidal compromise was suggested by luminal narrowing of the capillaries, capillary dropout, and focal scarring. Choroidal neovascularization with subretinal fibrovascular membranes occurred in two patients at the midperiphery and periphery, and resembled those of retinitis proliferans. Leakage of proteinaceous fluid into the choroidal stroma and beneath the focally detached pigment epithelium was suggested by the electron microscopic observations. Choroidal vasculopathy in diabetes mellitus is similar to much of what has been described in other tissues of the eye and body, and suggests an important role in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy since the outer retinal layers are largely dependent on the choroid for their nutrition and oxygenation.

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