Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that occurs in people who have 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.
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
Diabetic retinopathy can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Testing, with emphasis on evaluating the retina and macula, may include:
- Patient history
- Visual acuity measurements
- Evaluation of the ocular structures, including the evaluation of the retina
- Measurement of the pressure
Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) is the early state of the disease in which symptoms will be mild or non-existent. In NPDR, the blood vessels in the retina are weakened causing tiny bulges called microanuerysms to protrude from their walls.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is the more advanced form of the disease. At this stage, new fragile blood vessels can begin to grow in the retina and into the vitreous, the gel-like fluid that fills the back of the eye. The new blood vessel may leak blood into the vitreous, clouding vision.
Laser treatment (photocoagulation) is used to stop the leakage of blood and fluid into the retina. A laser beam of light can be used to create small burns in areas of the retina with abnormal blood vessels to try to seal the leaks.
Treatment for diabetic retinopathy depends on the stage of the disease. The goal of any treatment is to slow or stop the progression of the disease.
Want to find out more?
Visit the American Optometric Association Website