Five insulin dependent diabetic patients are reported on who had a few small retinal cotton-wool spots or 'soft exudates' either totally isolated or associated with fewer than 10 microaneurysms. These observations suggest that cotton-wool spots may be an early finding in diabetic retinopathy. Significant biological abnormalities in these patients were high levels of glycosylated haemoglobin and mild increases in thrombin generation, indicating slight activation of the coagulation system. The possible significance of these clinical and biological findings is discussed.
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