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Free Content Foveal haemorrhages in diabetic retinopathy. Clinical characteristics and visual outcome

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Haemorrhages from retinal vessels is one of the major clinical characteristics of diabetic retinopathy. Vitreous haemorrhages from retinal neovascularizations may extend to the visual axis and disturb central vision, whereas asymptomatic intraretinal haemorrhages may develop from ruptures of smaller retinal vessels. On rare occasions, however, smaller intraretinal haemorrhages may develop in the fovea, and consequently lead to a reduction in central vision. The clinical characteristics and visual outcome of these lesions have not been described in detail.


Clinical data of 4724 diabetic patients (31.4% with type 1 diabetes and 68.6% with type 2 or other diabetes types) examined in the screening clinic for diabetic retinopathy at the Department of Ophthalmology, Århus University Hospital, 1993–1998 were reviewed. Patients who had had a previous foveal haemorrhage were subjected to a full ophthalmological reexamination.


Six eyes of six patients with type 1 diabetes had previously had a foveal haemorrhage. The lesion had resulted in a visual reduction of on the average 1.4 visual acuity steps (SD=0.5, range:1–2, n=5), and resolution of the lesion was accompanied by an increase in visual acuity of on the average 1.2 visual acuity steps (SD=0.4, range: 1–2, n=6). Four of the patients had progressed to proliferative diabetic retinopathy and had received pan-retinal photocoagulation.


Foveal haemorrhages in diabetic retinopathy are accompanied by a mild and transient reduction in central vision. The lesions predominate in patients with type 1 diabetes of long duration, and may indicate that retinopathy has developed into a moderate or severe stage.

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Keywords: diabetic retinopathy; foveal avascular zone; retinal haemorrhages; visual loss

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Department of Ophthalmology, Århus University Hospital, Århus, Denmark

Publication date: 2000-04-01

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