Diabetic retinopathy

Close look on diabetic retinopathy

Fact Checked

Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes and has been the main cause of blindness among adults. Always bear in mind that diabetes is capable of causing significant eye-related issues if not correctly managed and controlled.

What are the signs and symptoms?

In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, there are no actual symptoms. An individual is unaware of the effects of diabetes on the eyes. As it progresses, the following symptoms can be observed:

  • The individual can complain of spots, specks or floaters.
  • There is difficulty seeing at night time.
  • The individual complains of streaks or disruption with vision if significant hemorrhage occurs within the eye.
  • The central vision might become blurry or go in and out of focus.
    Diabetic retinopathy
    The individual can complain of spots, specks or floaters.

What are the causes?

The chief cause for the development of diabetic retinopathy is poorly controlled diabetes or elevated blood sugar levels. The harshness of diabetic retinopathy is clearly connected to how the blood sugar is controlled.

The retina which is the sheet in the rear region of the eye that is sensitive to light with an abundant supply of blood vessels. Once the level of blood sugar rises too high, the blood vessels weaken. The blood and fluid within the blood vessels seep out into the retina. New blood vessels grow but they are still fragile and even leak fluid. This can cause the retina to swell and deprived of nutrients and oxygen, thus resulting to vision loss and even blindness.

Risk factors

  • Diabetes – if the individual had the condition longer, the more likely he/she is going to develop the condition
  • High blood pressure – individuals with high blood pressure are at high risk
  • Pregnancy
  • High level of cholesterol
  • Ethnicity (Hispanic or African-American)


In the moderate phases of diabetic retinopathy, a focal laser procedure is utilized to minimize the swelling inside the blood vessels. In severe phases, the “scattered laser treatment” might be used to minimize the leakage of the blood vessels as well as inhibit factors that causes the disease to develop.

The scattered laser treatment might lead to loss of night and peripheral vision but it can also prevent severe blindness from developing. In some cases, “vitrectomy” can be performed if there is substantial bleeding within the eye cavity. During the procedure, the vitreal fluid is eliminated together with the blood and replaced with clear fluid.

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