Published: Feb. 8, 2012
Updated: Feb. 8, 2012
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness for American adults. It is an eye disorder that affects the retina in patients with diabetes.
In diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels can swell and leak, or new blood vessels may form in the retina. It is also possible to develop retinal detachment secondary to scarring.
The result is damage to the retina, the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy can lead to vision loss or blindness.
People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy. But most people in the early stages of the disorder do not experience symptoms. If you have diabetes, it is recommended that you see an eye doctor regularly to watch for potential problems.
Symptoms can include:
Control of your diabetes is the best treatment for early stages of the disease (non-proliferative retinopathy). This will help slow the development of the disorder.
In advanced diabetic retinopathy (proliferative retinopathy) abnormal blood vessels can lead to bleeding in the retina and vitreous.
Treatment options for proliferative retinopathy include laser therapy (panretinal photocoagulation) or vitrectomy surgery.
A vitrectomy involves making an incision in the eye so the surgeon can remove scar tissue and blood vessels from the posterior segment of the eye. Both laser and vitrectomy surgery can slow the development of diabetic retinopathy and decrease the risk of significant vision loss related to diabetic retinopathy.
For diabetic retinopathy treatment in Durham, Raleigh, Cary, or elsewhere in North Carolina, contact the Duke Eye Center at 919-681-3937.