Diabetic Retinopathy

What is a Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy, which can affect individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, is a complication of the disease that will impact the eyes. The blood vessels within the retina are damaged, so the condition can eventually lead to blindness.

If you have been suffering with diabetes for a long time, and if your blood sugar is not under control, you will be more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy.

What are the Symptoms of a Diabetic Retinopathy?

When tiny blood vessels within the retina are damaged, they can leak fluids, including blood, causing swelling within the retinal tissue. Both eyes can be affected.

Symptoms include

  • Blurred or cloudy vision
  • Seeing floaters or spots
  • Experiencing difficulty when trying to see in dark conditions at night
  • Having an empty or a dark spot within the center of the visual field

How is a Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy will depend upon the level of damage caused by the condition. Ultimately, treatment will be focused on slowing, as well as potentially stopping, the condition’s progression.

Those who are diagnosed with non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy that is mild or moderate in intensity might not require any treatments at first. You may only need to have your eyes examined regularly by a qualified doctor. You should also work with your endocrinologist to keep your blood sugar level under control.

Treatment includes

On the other hand, if you have been diagnosed with proliferative diabetic retinopathy, or you have macular edema, you will need surgery. Options include vitrectomy, scatter laser treatment, and focal laser treatment. However, these will only slow or stop the progression of the condition, rather than cure it. Further damage to the retina, as well as vision loss, are possible, so regularly having your eyes examined will be necessary.

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Last Reviewed:
September 20, 2016
Last Updated:
September 06, 2017