Diabetic Retinopathy

As the name explains, Diabetic Retinopathy is a condition associated with Diabetes. This condition occurs when Diabetes causes the retina’s blood vessels to be damaged. 


This condition occurs when Diabetes causes the retina’s blood vessels to be damaged. Because of this damage, those vessels have a certain malfunctioning, so they can either swell and leak in one scenario, or they can close up on the other, preventing blood from passing. In a different scenario, there can be growth of new blood vessels on the retina. All of those occurrences can cause a loss of vision in the diabetic patient.

Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR)

This is an early stage of the disease, and unfortunately, many patients that are diagnosed with diabetes have it. When the Macula swells, this is known as Macular Edema, which is the most common reason for loss of vision in diabetic patients.

Not only that, but the retina’s blood vessels can also close off because of this condition, and this is known as Macular Ischemia. This prevents the blood from being able to reach the macula. Moreover, there can be some tiny particulars known as “exudates” that form in the retina, which can also affect the patient’s vision.

One of the clearest symptoms of NPDR in diabetic patients is having blurry vision. 

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR)

In this advanced stage of the disease, an event called neovascularization takes places, and this is when the retina produces new blood vessels. But due to the fragility of those new blood vessels, oftentimes they would bleed into the vitreous. If those vessels bleed a little, the patient may see some dark floaters, but if the bleeding increases, this might block all of the patient’s vision.

Moreover, those new blood vessels can cause tissue scars, which itself can cause problems with the macula, as it can also lead to another condition of a detached retina.

This stage is very serious, and it can take away the patient’s vision, centrally and peripherally.


What happens when you have Diabetic Retinopathy?

Many people have diabetic retinopathy without them knowing of it, as it doesn’t usually have any initial symptoms in the early stages, but it only shows its symptoms as it develops into the later stages. Some of the symptoms which are associated with Diabetic Retinopathy are as follows:

  • Seeing more floaters,
  • Blurry vision,
  • Visual alternations between blurriness and clarity.
  • Seeing areas of darkness or blankness in the patient’s field of vision.
  • Experiencing poor vision at night.
  • Seeing colors to be faded or washed out.
  • Complete loss of vision.

It is also worth noting that patients of Diabetic Retinopathy have those symptoms affecting both eyes.


Dilated-pupil examinations

This test would help your ophthalmologist to see the inside of your eye with a special lens.

Optical Coherence Topography (OCT)

This helps your doctor to look at your retina closely and have clear images if the retinas thickness, which can help the doctor assess how swelled is the macula.

Fluorescein angiography or OCT Angiography

This helps the doctor to see the situation of the blood vessels in the retina, either through the older Fluorescein technique which uses a special injectable dye to detect any blockage or leakage in the blood vessels, or through the newer OCT technique that doesn’t need a dye to look at the blood vessels. 

Treatment & Management

Medical and Lifestyle control

It’s important to control your blood sugar and blood pressure in order to stop any vision less. In order to achieve this, you would need to follow the diet recommended by your nutritionist, as you would need to take your prescribed medicine for diabetes. As a matter of fact, in some cases, having good control of your blood sugar may bring some of your vision back. The role of blood pressure is also not to be neglected as it can keep the eye’s blood vessels in a healthy state.


There are several types of medications that could be helpful for this condition. For example, one type is called anti-VEGF Medication, and this helps to reduce the macula’s swelling. This type of medication, which is given as an injection to the eye, has the power to slow down vision loss, and in some cases it can improve vision. Another type of medications is Steroid medicine, which also reduces macular swelling and is given as in injection to the eye.

Laser surgery

This form of treatment can helpful in treating blood vessel leakage, and it can be helpful in reducing the retina’s swelling. Moreover, it can be helpful in shrinking blood vessels and preventing their subsequent growth.


In cases of advanced PDR, your ophthalmologist may recommend a type of surgery known as vitrectomy. In this surgery, the doctor would remove vitreous gel and blood from leaking vessels in the back of the eye. This procedures enables light rays to focus properly on the retina once again. In this surgery, any scar tissue in the retina may also be removed.

What are the ways of preventing Vision Loss that results from Diabetic Retinopathy?
  • Control your blood sugar levels, and make sure you work alongside your primary care doctor on this matter, as high blood sugar can damage retinal blood vessels, causing a loss of vision.
  • Deal with any inherent health issues such as high blood pressure or kidney problems with the help of your doctor.
  • Regularly visit your ophthalmologist to have dilated eye exams, as Diabetic Retinopathy may be detected before you notice any symptoms or changes in vision.
  • Call or consult your ophthalmologist immediately when you notice any changes in vision.
  • Treat your condition of Diabetic Retinopathy as soon as possible, as this is the best way to tackle the problem and prevent a complete loss of vision.


Is it possible to reverse mild diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is when high blood sugar damage the blood vessels in the retina(back of the eye). When your blood sugar is controlled, mild retinopathy can improve and maybe resolve over time. However, in moderate and severe cases once damage in the retina occurred improvement is limited.

How long does it take for vision to normalize after blood sugar is stabilized?

It may take up to 3 months for vision to come back to normal after stabilizing the blood sugar level. 

When will my diabetes affect vision?

With well controlled blood sugar levels, diabetic retinopathy can be prevented. To prevent eye damage from diabetes, your doctor will recommend to eat healthy, exercise and attend regular dilated eye exam.

Can diabetes cause floaters?

In advanced diabetic eye disease you will be at risk of bleeding in the eye which will cause the floaters.