Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication in people with long-term diabetes. It is one of the leading causes for blindness among adults. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by changes in the retinal blood vessels. If you have diabetic retinopathy you might not notice any changes in your vision but after a certain period of time this can lead to impairment in the visual acuity. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes and has two main types:

  • Nonproliferative form – it is more common and mild but is frequently combined with the development of macular edema (thickening of the retina in the area of the macula) which highly impairs vision.
  • Proliferative form – it is not so common but is more severe.

Who is at risk?
All people with diabetes, both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, are at risk of diabetic retinopathy. Having diabetes for a long time and a poor control of blood sugar will influence the development of diabetic retinopathy and further complications.
Are there any symptoms?
Most often there is no pain or other symptoms, particularly at early stages. Do not wait for symptoms or poor vision! Visit your ophthalmologist regularly, have your eyes dilated and examined with additional diagnostic methods when necessary.

How is diabetic retinopathy diagnosed?
Test for vision acuity;
Dilation of the eyes and examination of the retina (eye fundus);
Fluorescein angiography: the eyes are dilated, then dye is injected in a vein and pictures of the retina are taken;

Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy
Different stages of the disease are treated in a different way and with different results.

  • Laser surgery is the main treatment technique with no current alternative. Only through laser coagulation (when it can be performed), your retina condition can be stabilized in the long term.
  • Medications are also included in the therapy.
  • Vitrectomy is a surgical procedure, applied more rarely, for severe forms of diabetic retinopathy as a final alternative.
  • Anti-VEGF therapy: an injection suppressing the development of diabetic macular edema and stabilizing the condition of the eye. Anti-VEGF drugs have become popular in recent years and this is justified.

To your attention: Have your eyes examined regularly and your ophthalmologist will diagnose you and offer you the proper treatment. Never postpone screening and treatment, if you have diabetic retinopathy – they are of utmost importance!