Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment - North Florida Cataract and Vision

Diabetic Retinopathy


What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy, the most common diabetic eye disease, occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina. There are two types of diabetic retinopathy: Background (or non-proliferative) and proliferative. Background diabetic retinopathy (BDR), is an early stage of diabetic retinopathy. With BDR, damaged retinal blood vessels begin to leak extra fluid, but usually it does not affect visual quality. The more severe form of retinopathy, PDR, is characterized by abnormal blood vessels growing on the surface of the retina. These vessels are prone to leak and cause swelling in the retina and sometimes bleeding into the vitreous. The abnormal vessels are also often accompanied by scar tissue that may cause the retina to wrinkle or detach. The damage caused by PDR can cause severe visual loss that is irreversible.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

Since the early stages of BDR often don't have symptoms, you can have diabetic retinopathy and not even know it. As the disease progresses, diabetic retinopathy symptoms may include spots or cobwebs floating in your vision, blurred vision, dark areas in your field of vision, poor night vision, decreased color perception, and vision loss.

Risk Factors for Diabetic Retinopathy

People with diabetes are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. It is very important for diabetics to have yearly exams with their eye physician. Several factors can influence the progression and severity of diabetic retinopathy, including:

  • Blood sugar levels
  • Blood pressure
  • Duration of diabetes
  • Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides levels
  • Ethnicity
  • Pregnancy

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy

Prevention is the best treatment for diabetic retinopathy. Strict control of your blood sugar will significantly reduce the long-term risk of vision loss. For advanced retinopathy, treatments such as lasers or medication injections may be recommended to slow progression of the disease. Surgical intervention ,such as a vitrectomy, may become necessary for patients with severe PDR. Such treatments will not cure diabetic retinopathy or restore normal vision but may delay the advancement of the disease.


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