Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs as a result of diabetes causing the closure of small blood vessels in the retina and weakening blood vessels within the retina.  The damage causes bleeding within the retina, leakage of fluid within the retina which causes swelling and bleeding within the vitreous cavity of the eye.  These changes can diminish eyesight and lead to permanent damage and blindness in worst cases.  Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults in the United States.  Because visual symptoms are rare in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy it is critical that diabetics undergo regular dilated eye examinations.  The risk for diabetic retinopathy increases with poorly controlled diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking.

At a minimum, annual eye exams are strongly recommended for all diabetic patients.   Control of blood sugar level is key to minimizing the risk of diabetic retinopathy.  Treatments for diabetic retinopathy, include laser eye surgery and intraocular injection of medications to shrink abnormal blood vessels can be very successful. Early diagnosis is very important.