Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a complication of diabetes and one of the leading causes of vision loss worldwide. Despite extensive efforts to reduce visual impairment, the prevalence of DR is still increasing. The initial pathophysiology of DR includes damage to vascular endothelial cells and loss of pericytes. Ensuing hypoxic responses trigger the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and other pro-angiogenic factors. At present, the most effective treatment for DR and diabetic macular edema (DME) is the control of blood glucose levels. More advanced cases require laser, anti-VEGF therapy, steroid, and vitrectomy. Pan-retinal photocoagulation for non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) is well established and has demonstrated promising outcomes for preventing the progressive stage of DR. Furthermore, the efficacy of laser therapies such as grid and subthreshold diode laser micropulse photocoagulation (SDM) for DME has been re-ported. Vitrectomy has been performed for vitreous hemorrhage and tractional retinal detachment for patients with PDR. In addition, anti-VEGF treatment has been widely used for DME, and re-cently its potential to prevent the progression of PDR has been remarked. Even with these treat-ments, many patients with DR lose their vision and suffer from potential side effects. Thus, we need alternative treatments to address these limitations. In recent years, the relationship between DR, lipid metabolism, and inflammation has been featured. Research in diabetic animal models points to peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα) activation in cellular metabolism and inflammation by oral fenofibrate and/or pemafibrate as a promising target for DR. In this paper, we review the status of existing therapies, summarize PPARα activation therapies for DR, and discuss their potentials as promising DR treatments.
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