Signs and Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication from having diabetes. It damages the blood vessels in your retina, causing vision problems that could eventually lead to blindness. Sadly, it is difficult to know when diabetic retinopathy is creeping in because it has zero symptoms. It also does not cause any vision problems until it gets to the advanced stage.


Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy


These symptoms are only visible when the condition has progressed considerably. They include:


  • Blurred vision

  • Dark or empty spots in your vision

  • Impaired color vision

  • Poor night vision

  • Eye floaters and dark strings in your field of vision

  • Streaks and patches blocking your vision

  • A sudden complete vision loss


If the above signs come up and you fail to get prompt treatment, diabetic retinopathy may lead to other complications.


Possible Complications


The blood vessels in the eye may start bleeding into the vitreous; a condition called vitreous hemorrhage. If the bleeding is slight, it causes floaters in your vision. If the condition is severe, you may lose your sight. The blood gets into the vitreous and prevents light passage into the eye. There are times that the bleeding resolves itself and your vision improves, but this is only if your retina did not suffer damage in the process.


Some people may have a detached retina as a diabetic retinopathy complication. The retina detaches when scar tissue tags on it, pulling it away from its position at the back of the eye. The detachment causes floating spots in your field of vision. You may also see flashes of light and an eventual vision loss if you fail to access treatment.


Another complication is the interruption of normal liquid flow in the eye as new blood vessels form. It causes glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition of increased intraocular pressure from liquid buildup. The pressure damages the optic nerve and causes total vision loss.


Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy


Treatment for diabetic retinopathy depends on the type and severity of the problem. Your response to former treatments also matters.


If your condition is in the very early stages, the doctor may only observe your condition without any intervention. This strategy is called watchful waiting. The eye doctor schedules comprehensive dilated eye exams every two or four months to check your progress.


An essential factor in the treatment of the condition is the control of the underlying condition, diabetes. The doctor may refer you to an endocrinologist for help with diabetes control. Having a good hold of your diabetes also makes treating diabetic retinopathy easier and cheaper.


Some cases, especially in the advanced stage, may require surgical intervention. The surgical treatment options available include:




This method falls into this category because it is intrusive. It involves injecting anti-VEFG drugs and corticosteroids inside your eye. The medication helps to reduce leakage and bring down swelling in the eyes.


Eye Surgery


The surgical solution is called a vitrectomy. It is the removal of some vitreous, jelly-like substance, from your eyes. The objective is to take away the cloudy or bloody vitreous to improve your vision and seal any leaking vessels. After draining some vitreous, the surgeon inserts a clear gas or liquid in its stead. With time, the body absorbs the fluid inserted and replaces it with a new vitreous.


Laser Treatment


This treatment is called panretinal photocoagulation or scatter laser surgery. It is used to shrink the abnormal blood vessels in your eye and leak any leaking ones. Laser treatment stops or slows fluid leakage and buildup in the eye.


The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy do not appear until later. Eye exams may help to diagnose and monitor the condition early on.


For a comprehensive eye exam and treatment of diabetic retinopathy, contact El Paso Eye Care in El Paso, TX at (915) 745-7960 to book an appointment.