Medical & Surgical Ophthalmology

Retina and vitreous

Diabetic retinopathy

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the most common disease affecting the retinal blood vessels.

It is the first cause of preventable blindness in the working population in industrialized countries.

Why does diabetic retinopathy occur?

When blood sugar levels are high and uncontrolled, the walls of the retinal blood vessels become more leaky and tortuous, and increase in number, as the disease progresses.

This is diabetic retinopathy

How does diabetic retinopathy manifest?

When abnormal vessels in the retina bleed, blood collects in the vitreous space of the eye, which is normally made of a clear gel. Therefore, this blood will lead to blurry or speckled vision.

Symptoms are usually not noticed until the disease is already severe. The most frequent symptoms are:

Diabetic retinopathy treatments

The old or classic treatment for diabetic retinopathy (DR), clearly standardized by several multicentre studies a long time ago, was laser photocoagulation: according to the disease progression, panretinophotocoagulation (in proliferative dr) or macular photocoagulation (focal or grid) will be performed for the treatment of diabetic macular edema. By applying laser coagulation in areas of ischemia or edema, the progression of the disease is slowed down.

On the other hand, patients with vitreous haemorrhage or other complications are candidates for surgery (vitrectomy).

In addition, complications associated with diabetes such as glaucoma or cataracts need their specific treatments.

Prevention of diabetic retinopathy

Patients with diabetes mellitus must have very well controlled blood glucose, plasma cholesterol, and blood pressure. On the other hand, a healthy lifestyle must be maintained (avoid sedentary lifestyle, obesity and tobacco).

In addition, it is mandatory for diabetic patients to periodically go to the ophthalmologist to control the disease in the retina, minimally once a year, since it does not cause symptoms until it is already advanced.



It does not have a specific presentation age, but it is frequently diagnosed in young age.


Vision loss, blurry or spotty vision, shadows, and difficulty seeing at night.


Strict control of blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure. Periodic reviews by your ophthalmologist performing a dilated fundus examination with fundus photography and oct usually.


Avoid smoking, obesity and sedentary lifestyle.

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