Contributor: Gordon K. Klintworth
The hallmarks of retinal ischemia include cotton wool spots, microaneurysms, capillary dropout and retinal neovascularization. Cotton wool spots appear in the superficial retina in patients with hypertension, diabetic retinopathy [retinopathy - diabetic], central retinal vein occlusion, AIDS and systemic lupus erythematosus. Antigen-antibody complexes cause precapillary arteriolar occlusion in AIDS and systemic lupus erythematosus. In diabetic retinopathy and central retinal vein occlusion cotton wool spots preceed the development of neovascularization.