What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Unfortunately, diabetes is a common disease that can trigger a number of debilitating responses throughout our system, including the eyes. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the eyes and cause vision loss or blindness. Diabetic retinopathy is an all-encompassing term which refers to the effect of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes on the eyes. To properly diagnose this serious disease, we use common procedures to detect blood flow to the retina. We then use high-resolution photographs of the retina to understand what kind of diabetic retinopathy is occurring.

Many diabetic patients can have diabetic retinopathy without knowing it. Usually, there is no pain and no outward sign. Over time, you may notice gradual blurring or some vision loss. Symptoms may come and go. If diabetic retinopathy is severe, you may have clouded vision or blindness. You should have regular eye exams to help your doctor detect changes in your vision. Treatment may help slow the progress of diabetic retinopathy and sometimes can restore lost vision. Treatment depends on your condition. 

Fortunately, diabetic retinopathy is preventable. People with diabetes are most susceptible to developing it. The better you control your blood levels, the lower your risk. Laser Eye Surgery encourages you to take prevention seriously by scheduling yearly eye exams.

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Types of Diabetic Retinopathy

Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

This type of diabetic retinopathy can occur after several years of being diabetic. The disease causes the retina to develop spots from minor blood leaks and dilated vessels. This can cause swelling if it escapes into the main portion of the retina. If it remains untreated, further damage is likely and will lead to vision loss. The onset of this can occur with or without symptoms. Some symptoms include floaters, double vision or blurring.

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

When diabetes has been present for several years, problems with the retina can develop. While the exact cause of diabetic retinopathy is not known, it appears that elevated blood sugar levels can cause damage to the blood vessels and red blood cells, reducing circulation to the retina. 

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is a rare form of retinopathy and causes a significant loss of vision. Once it has progressed, it causes a network of blood vessels to grow over the retina. Retinal detachment can occur, causing a sudden loss of vision. Vessels in the eye tend to bleed easily, damaging eye tissue.

Treatment Options for Diabetic Retinopathy

Treatment options can include different forms of laser surgery to surgical blood removal, therapeutic injections, and repair of the retina.  There are several approaches your doctor may use which in eye injections, laser treatment, focal laser photocoagulation, pan retinal photocoagulation, and vitrectomy surgery.

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