Diabetes can harm your eye in many ways. The retina is the part of the eye most commonly damaged by diabetes, and this condition is called diabetic retinopathy. Early changes often go unnoticed, so making an early diagnosis important. The damage can be caught early with sophisticated imaging technology. Your doctor can detect macular swelling (swelling in the center of the retina), leaky or blocked blood vessels, and 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 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.
Duke retinal specialists are experts in diagnosing, managing, and treating diabetic retinopathy and are recognized leaders in diabetic retinopathy research. We use the latest imaging devices to identify the changes in your eye caused by the disease as early as possible and recommend the most appropriate treatment. That’s important because diabetic retinopathy can cause permanent blindness if left untreated. Our advanced training and experience ensure you get the care you need -- when you need it -- to prevent or halt the vision loss often associated with diabetic retinopathy.
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About Diabetic Retinopathy
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
Tests for Diabetic Retinopathy
Measures 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 3D image map of the front part of your eye, the optic nerve, and the macula. It detects changes in the thickness of the macula.
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.
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our ophthalmology program is ranked sixth in the nation and is the highest ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2022–2023.
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 from diabetic retinopathy. We routinely perform complicated surgeries, and our surgical suites are staffed by anesthesiologists and surgical nurses with 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. Wide-field imaging devices allow for visualization of the outer edges of the retina. This significant advancement 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.
Our clinical social worker is available to help you cope with the emotional and psychological stress of vision loss and other medical or environmental concerns.
You may be eligible to participate in our many ongoing research programs (clinical trials), which may lead to a better understanding of diabetic retinopathy and improve treatment options and outcomes.