Diabetic Retinopathy

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.

Diabetes interferes with the body’s ability to use and store sugar (glucose). The disease is characterized by too much sugar in the blood, which can cause damage throughout the body, including the eyes.

Over time, diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when these tiny blood vessels leak blood and other fluids. This causes the retinal tissue to swell, resulting in cloudy or blurred vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.

Often the early stages of diabetic retinopathy have no visual symptoms. That is why it is imperative that everyone with diabetes have a comprehensive dilated eye examination once a year. Early detection and treatment can limit the potential for significant vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.

What is the treatment for diabetic retinopathy?

Laser treatment can help prevent further eye damage from the diabetes, however it will not cure diabetic retinopathy nor will it improve the patient’s vision. It is an attempt to lessen the chance for future damage to the eye.

Unfortunately, diabetic retinopathy may progress despite laser treatments. However, it is definite that diabetic laser treatment reduces the risk for severe vision loss in diabetics.

The timing for treatment of diabetic retinopathy is very important. Dr. Parent has had retinal training and years of experience with treatment of diabetic retinopathy. He will examine you carefully and recommend when laser therapy is indicated. This procedure is performed in the office with no postoperative restrictions.

Is there any way to prevent diabetic retinopathy?

Studies indicate it is very important to maintain good control of both blood sugar and blood pressure. This may mean a total change in diet and lifestyle. Consult with your own medical doctor about the importance of diet and exercise. Learn how to maintain the best possible control of your blood sugar. Complication of diabetes, especially diabetic retinopathy, can probably be reduced by long-term strict control of blood sugar.