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Journal of Diabetes Research
Volume 2017, Article ID 2562759, 10 pages
Review Article

Noninvasive Retinal Markers in Diabetic Retinopathy: Advancing from Bench towards Bedside

1Department of Ophthalmology, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark
2Department of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
3Department of Neurology, Kolding Hospital, Hospital Lillebaelt, Kolding, Denmark
4Department of Regional Health Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
5Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
6Odense Patient Data Explorative Network (OPEN), Odense University Hospital and Department of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
7NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, London, UK
8Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK

Correspondence should be addressed to Jakob Grauslund; kd.dysr@dnulsuarg.bokaj

Received 13 December 2016; Accepted 12 March 2017; Published 13 April 2017

Academic Editor: Andrea Scaramuzza

Copyright © 2017 Søren Leer Blindbæk 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.


The retinal vascular system is the only part of the human body available for direct, in vivo inspection. Noninvasive retinal markers are important to identity patients in risk of sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy. Studies have correlated structural features like retinal vascular caliber and fractals with micro- and macrovascular dysfunction in diabetes. Likewise, the retinal metabolism can be evaluated by retinal oximetry, and higher retinal venular oxygen saturation has been demonstrated in patients with diabetic retinopathy. So far, most studies have been cross-sectional, but these can only disclose associations and are not able to separate cause from effect or to establish the predictive value of retinal vascular dysfunction with respect to long-term complications. Likewise, retinal markers have not been investigated as markers of treatment outcome in patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. The Department of Ophthalmology at Odense University Hospital, Denmark, has a strong tradition of studying the retinal microvasculature in diabetic retinopathy. In the present paper, we demonstrate the importance of the retinal vasculature not only as predictors of long-term microvasculopathy but also as markers of treatment outcome in sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy in well-established population-based cohorts of patients with diabetes.