Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the eye's retina that occurs with long-term diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the blood vessels of the retina. This can eventually lead to blindness. Up to 80% of all patients with diabetes for 20 years or more can be affected. All patients with diabetes are at risk. With close monitoring for diabetic retinopathy with annual eye exams, the disease can be prevented and controlled.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy

  • Often early diabetic retinopathy has no symptoms
  • Blurred vision ranging from mild to severe loss of vision
  • Transient blurring of vision if blood sugars cause a swelling in the lens
  • Floaters if there has been a hemorrhage

The types of diabetic retinopathy

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy:

Non-Proliferative diabetic retinopathy: This is the early stage of diabetic retinopathy. The vision may still be unaffected or it can be affected at different levels. Although the retina vessels are affected, in this stage there is no new growth of abnormal blood vessels.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy: As the disease progresses, blood vessels proliferate. The lack of oxygen in the retina causes new blood vessels to grow. These blood vessels are fragile and can burst easily causing bleeding, cloudy vision, and damage to the retina. This process can also lead to a retinal detachment and glaucoma.

Diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy

Your eye doctor can make the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy. This requires a dilated eye exam to examine the retina is detail. The doctor will look for specific signs of diabetic retinopathy such as damaged blood vessels, hemorrhages, swelling, and abnormal growth of blood vessels. Sometimes an ocular coherence tomography (OCT) or a fluorescein angiogram (FA) is used to visualize the retina.

Our doctors at Denver Eye Surgeons have the knowledge, expertise, and equipment necessary to diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy. We have a fellowship trained retinal specialist to help with the diagnosis and treatment of diabetic retinopathy.

All patients with diabetes should be examined regularly to detect any signs of diabetic retinopathy. If caught early, the disease is reversible. In later stages, various types of treatment become necessary and significant vision can be lost.

Treatment of diabetic retinopathy

There are many ways to treat diabetic retinopathy. The treatment will depend upon the type of diabetic retinopathy and the level of retinal damage. The different ways are:

  • laser surgery
  • injections into the eye
  • vitrectomy surgery
  • Retinal detachment surgery

There is no cure for diabetic retinopathy. It is also very important to control your blood sugars and blood pressures with the help of your primary doctor and/or endocrinologist. A good diet and regular exercise will be recommended to you.

Our doctors at Denver Eye Surgeons are committed to treating diabetic retinopathy, preventing blindness, and providing you with the best in diabetic eye care. Our doctors have the necessary knowledge, expertise, diagnostic equipment, and treatment options available to help you make the decision regarding the best treatment for you.


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