Diabetes and retinopathy are serious conditions that can lead to blindness if left untreated. People with uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes are at much higher risk for developing retinopathy. The best way to prevent retinopathy related to your diabetes is to control your blood sugar well, and avoid hyperglycemia.

After you are diagnosed with diabetes, your physician will give you a treatment plan to follow. This plan will allow you to control your blood sugar levels. This is necessary to maintain good health and prevent damage from occurring throughout the body.

When the treatment plan is not followed or it is unsuccessful, it can lead to all types of serious complications, which can lead to death. One of these serious complications is retinopathy. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and you notice any changes in your vision, it is imperative that you see a doctor to have your vision check immediately. Early diagnosis of vision problems related to diabetes is the best way to prevent serious long term eye damage. Retinopathy in diabetes can be avoided by taking good preventative measures and recognizing the symptoms.


Retinopathy and Diabetes Symptoms


Retinopathy and diabetes symptoms are usually minimal, if at all. In many cases, there are no real symptoms and there is no pain related to this condition. Thus, it is imperative that you have eye exams regularly, at least once per year, to check for any eye deterioration or complications related to diabetes.

According to the National Eye Institute, there are three tests that need to be performed annually to make sure that you are not developing retinopathy. There are four stages of retinopathy, and it is most treatable if caught in the early stages. These are the tests you can expect when you visit the eye doctor:

  • Tonometry – An instrument used to measure the pressure inside your eye
  • Dilated Eye Examination – Pupils are dilated using drops or puffs of air so that the doctor can see inside the eye to check for disease of the inside of the eye. This includes looking at the retina and optic nerve
  • Visual Acuity Test – You will be asked to view an eye chart at various distances and levels to determine how well you see at several different distances


Diabetes Retinopathy Treatment


According to the National Eye Institute, laser surgery is the most common treatment for retinopathy. The surgeon places small burns in the retina, but away from the macula. This allows the abnormal blood vessels to shrink back down and release the swelling. The goal of this surgery is to restore normal vision. However, due to the location of the small burns, the peripheral vision is somewhat affected.

The laser procedure, known as scatter laser treatment, is only used in the final stage (4) of retinopathy. This stage is known as proliferative retinopathy. Prior to stage 4, no treatment is necessary. However, the cause of the damage will be analyzed to determine how to prevent further damage to the eyes.