Clin Hemorheol Microcirc. 2011 Jan 1;47(2):131-41.

Correlation of conjunctival microangiopathy with retinopathy in type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients.

To WJTelander DGLloyd MEChen PCCheung AT.

Department of Medical Pathology, University of California, Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA, USA.


We hypothesized that T2DM vasculopathy can be revealed and quantified in the bulbar conjunctiva prior to its pathologic presentation in the retina. Using computer-assisted intravital microscopy (CAIM), an objective, non-invasive approach can provide a viable complement to retinal fundus photography to possibly screen patients for early signs of real-time, in vivo T2DM vasculopathy. Fundus photography was utilized to determine the retinopathy level (RL) in T2DM patients with non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) and control subjects. CAIM was used to quantify microangiopathy in the bulbar conjunctiva in the same patients, and reported on a severity index (SI). The average RL for the T2DM patients in this study is 19.68 ± 9.91, which differs from control subjects (RL = 10 ± 0.0; p < 0.05). A significant difference in vasculopathy was observed in the conjunctival microcirculation in the same patients (SI = 5.81 ± 1.30) when compared with control subjects (SI = 1.33 ± 1.58; p < 0.05). The results provide evidence that significant vasculopathy had developed in the microcirculation in the bulbar conjunctiva, though diabetic retinopathy had not developed significantly in the same patients – indicative of the presence of a time window for early intervention of T2DM before non-proliferative retinopathy develops, and the real-time availability of the conjunctival microvasculature as an in vivo platform to monitor disease progression.

PMID: 21339633