Diabetic Retinopathy

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that occurs as a result of damage to the blood vessels of the retina in people who have diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy can develop if you have type 1 or 2 diabetes and a long history of uncontrolled high blood sugar levels. While you may start out with only mild vision problems, you can eventually lose your sight.


Treatment options are limited for people who have early diabetic retinopathy. Your doctor may want to perform regular eye exams to monitor eye health in case treatment becomes necessary. An endocrinologist can help to slow the progression of retinopathy by helping you optimally manage your diabetes. In advanced diabetic retinopathy, the treatment depends on type and severity of retinopathy.

Photocoagulation surgery can help prevent vision loss. This type of surgery uses a laser to control or stop leakage by burning the vessels to seal them. The types of photocoagulation and other treatments include the following:

  • Scatter photocoagulation involves using a laser to burn hundreds of tiny holes in the eyes two or more times to reduce the risk of blindness.
  • Focal photocoagulation involves using a laser to target a specific leaky vessel in the macula to keep macular edema from worsening
  • Vitrectomy involves removing scar tissue and cloudy fluid from the vitreous fluid of the eye.
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