Diabetic Retinopathy

If you have diabetes, you probably know that your body can't use or store sugar properly. When your blood sugar gets too high, it can damage the blood vessels in your eyes, which is why an annual comprehensive eye exam is important. This damage may lead to diabetic retinopathy. In fact, the longer someone has diabetes, the more likely they are to have retinopathy (damage to the retina).

diabetic retinopathy demo

In its advanced stages, diabetes may lead to new blood vessel growth over the retina. The new blood vessels can break and cause scar tissue to develop, which can pull the retina away from the back of the eye. This is known as retinal detachment, and it can lead to blindness if untreated. In addition, abnormal blood vessels can grow on the iris, which can lead to glaucoma.

People with diabetes are 25 times more likely to lose vision than those who are not diabetic, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

If you are concerned about diabetic retinopathy don't wait, contact an eye doctor near you today!

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy and Other Diabetes-Related Eye Problems

The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy (DR) and other eye problems related to diabetes are:

  • Fluctuating vision
  • Eye floaters and spots
  • Development of a scotoma or shadow in your field of view
  • Blurry and/or distorted vision
  • Corneal abnormalities such as slow healing of wounds due to corneal abrasions
  • Double vision
  • Eye pain
  • Near vision problems unrelated to presbyopia
  • Cataracts

During an eye examination, your eye doctor will look for other signs of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic eye disease. Signs of eye damage found in the retina can include swelling, deposits and evidence of bleeding or leakage of fluids from blood vessels.

For a definitive diagnosis, you may need to undergo a test called a fluorescein angiography. In this test, illuminated dye is injected into the body through your veins (IV). As your blood flows, the dye gradually appears in the retina.

Your eye doctor will photograph the retina and evaluate its appearance with the help of the illuminated dye. This analysis helps determine if the disease is present and how far it has progressed.

One sometimes overlooked symptom of diabetic eye disease is nerve damage (neuropathy) affecting ocular muscles that control eye movements. Symptoms can include involuntary eye movement (called nystagmus) and double vision.

Annual Eye Exams

According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 27 percent of Americans age 65 or older had diabetes in 2010.

Both the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend that patients with diabetes get annual dilated eye exams. Medical insurance and/or vision insurance cover the cost of receiving a dilated exam in most cases, and both of the national organizations have programs for assisting diabetes patients without insurance.


For more information on diabetic retinopathy visit AllAboutVision.com.

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