Insight Vision
Eye Care & Laser Centre
Diabetic Retinopathy


Diabetes is a metabolic disorder which interferes with body’s ability to use and store sugar. It usually affects adults in their late forties or fifties. However, these days owing to lifestyle changes even young people can get diabetes. The classic symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, tiredness or blurred vision.

Uncontrolled diabetes can affect eyes, nerves and kidneys. Individuals with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts at a younger age and are twice as likely to develop glaucoma as are non-diabetics. However, the primary vision problem caused by diabetes is Diabetic Retinopathy which damages the blood vessels of the retina.

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in the world. It may lead to frequent fluctuations in vision, cataract in young age etc. The most significant complication of Diabetes in eyes is Diabetic retinopathy. It is the consequence of damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. They leak blood and fluids that cause swelling of retinal tissue and clouding and ultimately loss of vision. The condition usually affects both eyes and is a serious condition.

Warning Symptoms:

  • - Blurred, double, or distorted vision or difficulty reading.

  • - Floaters or spots in your vision.

  • - Partial or total loss of vision or a shadow or veil across your field of vision.

All diabetics are at risk of getting Diabetic Retinopathy. The risk multiplies the longer a person lives with diabetes. It has been observed that about 80% of long standing diabetics (15 years or more of diabetes) have some damage in the blood vessels of retina. Diabetic retinopathy can occur at a young age in juvenile diabetics.

Diabetic retinopathy is a silent vision stealer. In early stage, there is hardly any symptom. Hence, a diabetic must strictly get the eye exam done every year. If detected early, vision loss can be prevented. But, once the damage is done, the effects may become irreversible.

The eye doctor will do a comprehensive eye investigation to detect Diabetic Retinopathy. The eye exam includes visual acuity tests, eye pressure measurements and direct visualization of the retina with an Indirect Ophthalmoscope Sometimes the ophthalmologist may require more extensive imaging with technology like Fundus Fluorescein Angiography (FFA) and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) to capture the details of the damage caused by abnormal blood vessels & assess the severity of the condition.

Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment

Laser Photocoagulation:

It is the most common line of action for Diabetic retinopathy treatment. But remember, this can only save the existing sight and may not be possible to make it better. In laser treatment, the retina specialist uses laser to destroy areas of retina deprived of oxygen which helps to prevent growth of new blood vessels (which are abnormal and easily break leading to bleeding in the eye) into these areas. It can be done in multiple sessions. In most cases, this procedure causes the new blood vessels to regress and swelling to subside. It usually takes three to four months to be fully effective.


Sometimes the new blood vessels bleed into the gel like centre (vitreous) of the eye. This condition – Vitreous hemorrhage can lead to a sudden loss of vision. If the vitreous hemorrhage is persistent then a procedure called Vitrectomy is recommended. This is a microsurgical procedure for diabetic retinopathy treatment which removes the blood and scar tissue from the centre of the eye. Many patients have improved vision after vitrectomy.

Intravitreal Injections:

These help patients with gross swelling in the macula. It may require injections into the eye of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor drug or steroid to reduce the growth of abnormal blood vessels and leakage of fluid from them. These may also be used prior to surgery to reduce the bleeding.

The choice of treatment depends on the stage of the disease, the age of the patient and the recommendations of the retina specialist.

Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment – Success Rate

Patients who have already lost vision from the disease usually do not regain the original vision. However, vision loss from complications such as bleeding into the eye or cataracts can be regained after diabetic retinopathy treatment. There is evidence that proper blood sugar control can delay and limit the progression and complications of Diabetic Retinopathy for people with diabetes.

Retinal detachment is an extremely grave eye condition that happens when the retina separates from the tissue behind it. One can permanently lose vision if the retina detachment isn’t repaired promptly. Retinal tears are although different than retinal detachment, but they are often the first stage leading to retinal detachment. If fluid from within the eye passes through a retinal tear that can separate the retina from its underlying tissue.