Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that occurs in people with diabetes.  It causes progressive damage to the retina, the light sensitive lining at the back of the eye.  Diabetic retinopathy is a serious sight-threatening complication of diabetes that can last for years or be life-long.

Over time, diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina.  Diabetic retinopathy occurs when these tiny blood vessels leak blood and other fluids causing the retinal tissue to swell, resulting in cloudy or blurred vision.  The condition usually affects both eyes.  Patients with diabetes who can better control of their blood sugar levels will slow the onset of diabetic retinopathy. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy.  If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.

Often early stages of diabetic retinopathy have no visual symptoms, which is why it is recommend that people with diabetes have comprehensive eye exams at least once a year.  Early detection and treatment can limit the potential for significant vision loss from diabetic retinopathy. 

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy include:

  • Seeing spots or floaters
  • Blurred vision
  • Having a dark or empty spot in the center of your vision
  • Difficulty seeing well at night
  • Colors appear faded or washed out

Risk Factors for Diabetic Retinopathy may include: 

  • Diabetes: If you have type 1 diabetes, you should be examined for diabetic retinopathy within 5 years of diagnosis, then seen regularly.  Those with type 2 diabetes should be examined right after diagnosis, then yearly.  If you have diabetes while pregnant, schedule an appointment within the first trimester, as retinopathy develops quickly pregnancy. 
  • Race: Hispanics and African Americans are at greater risk for developing diabetic retinopathy 
  • Medical Conditions: People with other medical conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol are at greater risk 

Treatment Options for Diabetic Retinopathy:

We offer the latest diagnostic and therapeutic regimes for diabetic eye disease.  Early stages warrant regular follow up, examination and testing as appropriate. Later stages of the disease require injection of medication and treatment with argon laser. More advanced stages may require surgical procedures in the operating room.