Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy

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Duke retinal specialists are experts in diagnosing, managing, and treating diabetic retinopathy. We use the latest imaging devices to identify the changes in your eye caused by diabetic retinopathy and recommend the most appropriate course of treatment. Our specialists are recognized leaders in the field of diabetic retinopathy research. Our advanced training and experience ensure you get the care you need to prevent or halt the vision loss often associated with diabetic retinopathy.

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About Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes can damage your eye in many ways. The retina is the part of the eye most commonly affected; this is called diabetic retinopathy. Often, the early changes to your vision go unnoticed. That is why an accurate diagnosis, at the earliest possible stage, is important. The damage that can result from diabetic retinopathy can be caught early with sophisticated imaging technology. Your doctor can detect swelling, leaky, or blocked blood vessels as well as the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels before symptoms occur. Depending on the severity of your disease, we may monitor your condition or recommend a treatment that best meets your needs. We work closely with you and your diabetes specialists to help you reduce your risk for vision loss and keep your eyes as healthy as possible.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Treatments

Diabetes Control

People who have diabetes and are at risk for diabetic retinopathy can slow its progress using medication and healthy lifestyle habits to control their blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol.

Anti-VEGF Injections

Medications that block or inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) have proven effective at limiting leakage and growth of new blood vessels, diminishing their injury to the retina. Monthly injections in or around the eye may prevent vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.

Scatter Laser Surgery

Also known as panretinal photocoagulation, this procedure uses sophisticated imaging to direct up to 2,000 laser points around the retina to shrink abnormal blood vessels. Two or more sessions may be necessary. Scatter laser surgery is performed in your doctor’s office.

Focal Laser Surgery

A less intense laser targets fewer spots in the center portion of the retina. The laser seals leaky blood vessels to reduce the swelling of the macula (known as macular edema) that causes blurry vision. Focal laser surgery is performed in your doctor’s office.

Vitrectomy

Tiny incisions are made in the white part of your eyes in a surgery performed in the operating room. Through these incisions, your surgeon can remove blood from the vitreous gel in the center of your eye, apply complete scatter laser, and repair retinal detachments that may result from diabetes.

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Tests

Visual Acuity

Determines the accuracy of your vision by determining the smallest letters you can see on a chart.

Dilated Eye Exam

Dilation drops allow your doctor to get a better look at your retina, optic nerve, and macula.

Optical Coherence Tomography

OCT is a computer-guided device that creates a 3-D image map of the front part of your eye, the optic and retinal nerves, and the macula. It detects changes in the thickness of the macula and looks for small defects that may be difficult to identify during a visual field test. 

Tonometry

Measures the inner pressure of your eye using a tiny device that applies pressure to the eye.

Fluorescein Angiography

Dye is injected into your arm to identify new or leaking blood vessels in your eye. Magnified devices capture images that cannot be seen with your doctor’s naked eye.

Best Eye Hospital in NC

When it comes to your care, you want the very best. Duke University Hospital is ranked sixth in the nation and the best in North Carolina for ophthalmology.

Comprehensive Care for Diabetic Retinopathy

Advanced Training and Experience
Our specialists combine advanced training with the experience that comes from treating large volumes of people with diabetic retinopathy. We routinely perform complicated surgeries, and our surgical suites are staffed by anesthesiologists and surgical nurses who have extensive training and experience in caring for people with complex eye conditions.

Latest Imaging Devices
Our researchers use the most sophisticated imaging to perform tests that help us diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy. Our imaging devices allow us to see the outer edges of the eye, a significant advance that better guides our treatment recommendations.

Low Vision Rehabilitation
If you are experiencing vision loss related to diabetic retinopathy, we conduct a thorough evaluation of your needs and give you the tools and knowledge to optimize your visual function and maximize your quality of life.

Comprehensive Support
Our clinical social worker is available to help you cope with the emotional and psychological stress of vision loss, as well as other medical or environmental concerns.

Research Advancements
You may be eligible to participate in and contribute to our many ongoing research programs, which may lead to a better understanding of diabetic retinopathy as well as more effective therapies and ways to manage the disease.