Diabetic retinopathy has long been recognized as a vascular disease that develops in most patients, and it was believed that the visual dysfunction that develops in some diabetics was due to the vascular lesions used to characterize the disease. It is becoming increasingly clear that neuronal cells of the retina also are affected by diabetes, resulting in dysfunction and even degeneration of some neuronal cells. Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are the best studied of the retinal neurons with respect to the effect of diabetes. Although investigations are providing new information about RGCs in diabetes, including therapies to inhibit the neurodegeneration, critical information about the function, anatomy and response properties of these cells is yet needed to understand the relationship between RGC changes and visual dysfunction in diabetes.
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