Diabetic Eye Conditions

Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to regulate its blood sugar level. Unregulated blood sugar can damage the body’s blood vessels over time, especially in the eye. This kind of damage to the eye is called diabetic eye disease. Diabetic eye disease primarily affects the retina, which lines the back of the eye. The most common diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy; though, diabetes can also increase a person’s likelihood of developing cataracts or glaucoma.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

In its early form, the walls of the blood vessels in your retina weaken, allowing tiny bulges to protrude from the walls of the smaller vessels, sometimes leaking fluid and blood into the retina. Larger retinal vessels can begin to expand and become irregularly shaped. This may cause blurred vision.

As diabetic retinopathy progresses, sometimes the central part of the retina (macula) begins to swell and requires treatment. Damaged blood vessels may also close off, causing the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels in the retina that may leak. If not treated, this progressed form of diabetic retinopathy may lead to irreversible blindness.  

How is diabetic retinopathy treated?

Early diabetic retinopathy does not require treatment; however, we offer several treatment options for patients with progressed forms of the disease:

  • Laser therapy: This treatment is used to shrink the new abnormal blood vessels. Though this treatment can be done after the fragile, new blood vessels have started to bleed, it works better if performed before this occurs. That is why it is important to have regular, comprehensive dilated eye exams.
  • Vitrectomy: This surgical procedure may be needed if the bleeding is severe. During a vitrectomy, blood is removed from the center of your eye.