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Journal of Diabetes Research
Volume 2015, Article ID 319692, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/319692
Review Article

Role of Electrophysiology in the Early Diagnosis and Follow-Up of Diabetic Retinopathy

1Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Nephrologic, Anesthesiologic and Geriatric Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, “Sapienza” University of Rome, Viale del Policlinico 155, 00161 Rome, Italy
2Center of Ocular Electrophysiology, Department of Sense Organs, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, “Sapienza” University of Rome, Viale del Policlinico 155, 00161 Rome, Italy
3Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, “Sapienza” University of Rome, Viale del Policlinico 155, 00161 Rome, Italy
4Department of Sense Organs, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, “Sapienza” University of Rome, Viale del Policlinico 155, 00161 Rome, Italy

Received 30 December 2014; Accepted 1 April 2015

Academic Editor: Secundino Cigarran

Copyright © 2015 Nicola Pescosolido et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Retinopathy is a severe and common complication of diabetes, representing a leading cause of blindness among working-age people in developed countries. It is estimated that the number of people with diabetic retinopathy (DR) will increase from 126.6 million in 2011 to 191 million by 2030. The pathology seems to be characterized not only by the involvement of retinal microvessels but also by a real neuropathy of central nervous system, similar to what happens to the peripheral nerves, particularly affected by diabetes. The neurophysiological techniques help to assess retinal and nervous (optic tract) function. Electroretinography (ERG) and visual evoked potentials (VEP) allow a more detailed study of the visual function and of the possible effects that diabetes can have on the visual function. These techniques have an important role both in the clinic and in research: the central nervous system, in fact, has received much less attention than the peripheral one in the study of the complications of diabetes. These techniques are safe, repeatable, quick, and objective. In addition, both the ERG (especially the oscillatory potentials and the flicker-ERG) and VEP have proved to be successful tools for the early diagnosis of the disease and, potentially, for the ophthalmologic follow-up of diabetic patients.