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Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes can affect sight

If you have diabetes mellitus, your body does not use and store sugar properly.  High blood-sugar levels can damage blood vessels in the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and helps to send images to the brain.  The damage to retinal vessels is referred to as diabetic retinopathy.

How is diabetic retinopathy diagnosed?

A medical eye examination is the only way to find changes inside your eye.  An ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) can often diagnose and treat serious retinopathy before you are aware of any vision problems.  The ophthalmologist dilates your pupil and looks inside of the eye with an ophthalmoscope.
If your ophthalmologist finds diabetic retinopathy, he or she may order color photographs of the retina ot a special test called fluorescein angiography to find out if you need treatment.  In this test a dye is injected in your arm and photos of your eye are taken to detect where the fluid is leaking.

How is diabetic retinopathy treated?

The best treatment is to prevent the development of retinopathy as much as possible.  Strict control of your blood sugar will significantly reduce the long-term risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.  If high blood pressure and kidney problems are present, they need to be treated.
Laser surgery:  Laser surgery is often recommended for people with macular edema, PDR and neovascular glaucoma.