Diabetic Retinopathy

What is Diabetic Retinopathy? Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetes-related eye disease that affects the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. Chronically high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the retina, leading to various vision problems and, in severe cases, blindness.


Causes of Diabetic Retinopathy: The primary cause of diabetic retinopathy is prolonged exposure to high blood sugar levels, which can damage the delicate blood vessels in the retina over time. Other factors that may increase the risk of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes
  • Poorly controlled blood sugar levels
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Pregnancy-related diabetes (gestational diabetes)
  • Smoking

Types of Diabetic Retinopathy: There are two main types of diabetic retinopathy:

  1. Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR): In NPDR, the early stage of diabetic retinopathy, small blood vessels in the retina leak fluid or blood, leading to swelling (macular edema) and the formation of deposits called exudates. As the condition progresses, blood vessels may become blocked, depriving the retina of oxygen and nutrients.
  2. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR): PDR is the advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels (neovascularization) on the surface of the retina or optic nerve. These fragile blood vessels can leak blood into the vitreous gel, causing floaters or vision loss.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy: Diabetic retinopathy often develops gradually and may not cause noticeable symptoms in the early stages. However, as the condition progresses, patients may experience:

  • Blurred or fluctuating vision
  • Floaters (dark spots or strings) in the field of vision
  • Impaired color vision
  • Dark or empty areas in the vision (scotomas)
  • Difficulty reading or performing close-up tasks

Diagnosis and Treatment: Early detection and treatment are crucial for preventing vision loss in diabetic retinopathy. At Retina Consultants of Delmarva, our retina specialists use state-of-the-art diagnostic techniques to evaluate the retina and detect signs of diabetic retinopathy, including:

  • Dilated eye examination
  • Fundus photography
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT)
  • Fluorescein angiography

Treatment options for diabetic retinopathy may include:

  • Intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF medications to reduce macular edema and inhibit the growth of abnormal blood vessels
  • Laser photocoagulation therapy to seal leaking blood vessels or destroy abnormal tissue in the retina
  • Vitrectomy surgery to remove blood or scar tissue from the vitreous gel in advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy

At Retina Consultants of Delmarva, our experienced retina specialists are dedicated to providing personalized care and innovative treatments for patients with diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes or are experiencing symptoms of vision loss, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with our team to discuss your eye health and treatment options. Together, we can work towards preserving your vision and enhancing your quality of life.