Retinal Conditions - Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most frequent causes of blindness in the developed world in those under the age of 65.

However, this form of blindness is completely preventable with proper control of diabetes and yearly dilated eye examinations.

Non-proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes damages the small blood vessels throughout the body. The blood vessels begin to leak fluid, blood, and protein. In the eye, this leakage is seen as retinal bleeding and swelling. This blood and swelling interferes with the normal function of the eye, resulting in decreased vision. If this condition is not corrected, vision loss can be permanent. This type of retinopathy is called non-proliferative background diabetic retinopathy.

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

In some, abnormal blood vessels begin to grow in the retina. These abnormally growing blood vessels are very fragile, and especially prone to bleeding. They may cause a large sudden bleed, called a vitreous hemorrhage, resulting in rapid loss of vision. Usually, this visual loss is not permanent, but vision may not return to normal. This type of retinopathy is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy and requires prompt treatment. Removal of blood and examination of the retina is important to pursue quickly to try to restore vision.

The best treatment for diabetic retinopathy is PREVENTION.

All diabetics should check their blood sugar daily, visit their medical doctor routinely, follow a diabetic diet, and have a dilated eye exam at least yearly. If prevention of diabetic retinopathy has failed, your retina specialist can direct your treatment to stabilize leaky blood vessels or close abnormal blood vessels to preserve and often improve vision. However, these problems will continue to recur as long as the diabetes is not medically controlled. Recent developments for diabetic retinopathy include traditional laser as well as a host of intravitreal medications to halt and reverse the disease often leading to vision improvement.