What is diabetic retinopathy?

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Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disorder that involves the retina of individuals with diabetes. It is brought about by alterations in the eye blood vessels and develops due to high blood sugar among diabetics.

The condition develops once diabetes impairs the small-sized blood vessels in the retina. During the initial phases of the disease, the blood vessels leak fluid that disrupt with vision. In an advanced phase, new blood vessels grow around the retina and in the vitreous humor. If these are not treated, they might bleed and cause blurred vision or even scar and detach the retina.

Risk factors

The common cause of vision issues among those with diabetes originates from swelling of the retina or macular edema.
  • Type 1 or 2 diabetes
  • How long an individual has been diagnosed with diabetes
  • Blood glucose level control


Generally, there are no symptoms of diabetic retinopathy in its early phase and the vision might not be affected until it becomes severe.

The indications of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Loss of central vision
  • Small spots or floaters
  • Loss of ability to see color
  • Blurry or distorted vision

Since the condition develops over time, it is vital to have yearly eye exams or more often if it has progressed.

Management of diabetic retinopathy

In most cases, treatment is not needed but regular eye exams might be required.

The common cause of vision issues among those with diabetes originates from swelling of the retina or macular edema. In the previous years, laser was used as treatment. Nevertheless, recent studies revealed that injections of small dosage of drugs into the eye can control the condition better. There are 3 or more drugs that are used and repeat injections might be required.

Laser is utilized for advanced changes and can prevent significant vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy. One procedure, specifically laser photocoagulation involves sealing or destroying the growing or leaking blood vessels in the retina.

In some individuals with diabetic retinopathy, the blood leaking from the blood vessels in the retina might drain into the vitreous humor and cause cloudy vision. Vitrectomy can be done to eliminate the blood that leaked into the region.

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