Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetes complication that affects your eyes. It's caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina). Diabetic retinopathy affects over 40% of those who have diabetes, and if left untreated can cause permanent blindness. Retina Consultants of Orange County offers state-of-the-art services in diagnosis and treatment for diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy Q & A

 What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of the eye that occurs due to diabetes. It affects a large number of diabetic patients and is the leading cause of blindness in the country in patients between the ages of 20 and 74. It occurs when the blood vessels that supply nourishment to the retina become damaged, causing vitreous hemorrhage, tractional retinal detachment, or glaucoma.

What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?

In the early stages, diabetic retinopathy has no symptoms. As the disease progresses, patients will notice:
  • Dark floaters or spots
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain or pressure in the eyes
  • Peripheral vision problems
  • Severe vision loss
Patients noticing these symptoms need to call Retina Consultants of Orange County to ensure they aren't dealing with complications from their diabetes.

What is macular edema?

Macular edema is a potential complication associated with diabetic retinopathy. This occurs when fluid builds up in the macula, causing the macula to swell and vision to blur. This occurs in about half of the patients who have diabetic retinopathy.

How is diabetic retinopathy treated?

Early stage diabetic retinopathy doesn't need treatment, though patients should control their blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. If the disease progresses, it's treated with a scatter laser treatment, which reduces the risk of severe vision loss. If the retina detaches, the Retinal Consultants of Orange County team will perform a vitrectomy to reattach it. If diabetic retinopathy causes macular edema, Retinal Consultants of Orange County will perform a laser procedure called focal laser treatment. This combined with injections of medications to reduce swelling, including anti-inflammatory or anti-VEGF medications, has proven to be fairly effective at treating the condition.

How can I reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy?

Annual comprehensive eye exams with dilation are essential for people with diabetes. An individual's risk of developing the condition increases with the length of time the person has diabetes. Some factors that can reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy include:
  • Close monitoring of vision changes
  • Close monitoring and management of blood pressure
  • Healthy eating
  • Regular exercise
  • Close monitoring and managing of cholesterol levels
  • A1C levels kept under 7%
For further information about diabetic retinopathy, its treatments, and its prevention, contact Retina Consultants of Orange County. You can learn more about Diabetic Retinopathy here