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Posted by: Mitchell Refractive Surgery & Eye Center


The best way to protect yourself against the harmful side effects of diabetic eye disease is by having regular examinations with your eye doctor. Different forms of the disease, including serious conditions like proliferative retinopathy, can be present without symptoms. So you could be going about your daily life not knowing that an extremely harmful disease is damaging your vision.

Regular eye examinations are a good idea even if you are completely healthy. If you have diabetes, it is especially important to schedule these check-ins with your eye doctor so he can ensure you are not developing diabetic eye disease (diabetic retinopathy).


When your eye doctor examines you for traces of diabetic eye disease, he will look inside the eye using an instrument called an ophthalmoscope. The pupils may need to be dilated (enlarged) with eye drops beforehand. If your eye doctor finds diabetic retinopathy, he may order color photographs of the retina or a special test called a fluorescein angiography to find out if you need treatment. Fluorescein angiography is a test where dye is injected into your arm and special photos of your eye are taken. From there, your eye doctor will discuss your treatment options.


When deciding on the best course of action for treating your diabetic eye disease, your eye doctor will consider your:

  • Age
  • Medical History
  • Lifestyle
  • Retina Damage

In many cases treatment is not necessary, but you will need to continue having regular eye exams. In other cases, treatment may be recommended to stop the damage of diabetic retinopathy and improve the sight that has been damaged. If you experience the latter, there are several types of treatment that may be effective.

Laser Surgery

Laser surgery can be a very helpful treatment for combatting diabetic eye disease. If a diabetic retinopathy condition is detected early, laser surgery slows down vision loss. Even in more advanced stages of the disease (proliferative retinopathy), laser surgery reduces visual impairment.

At a glance, this treatment involves focusing a powerful beam of laser light on the damaged retina. Small bursts of the laser beam seal leaking retinal vessels to reduce macular edema in a process called photocoagulation. Additionally, laser beam bursts are scattered throughout the side areas of the retina to treat abnormal blood vessel growth (neovascularization). The small laser scars reduce the abnormal blood vessel growth and help bond the retina to the back of the eye, preventing retinal detachment.


If the vitreous (the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the center of the eye) is clouded by blood, laser surgery is not a viable treatment option until the blood settles or clears. In some cases of bleeding into the vitreous, cryotherapy (freezing) of the retina may help shrink the abnormal blood vessels.


In advanced proliferative diabetic retinopathy, your eye doctor may recommend a vitrectomy. This microsurgical procedure is performed in the operating room vs. in-office. Vitrectomy removes the blood-filled vitreous and replaces it with a clear solution. After surgery, about 70% of vitrectomy patients notice an improvement in their vision. Sometimes your eye doctor may wait several months to a year to see if the blood clears on its own before recommending a vitrectomy.

Retinal Repair

If scar tissue detaches the retina from the back of the eye, severe sight loss or blindness can result. The way to combat this is with a retinal repair operation that surgically reattaches the retina.

You & Your Treatment

Successful treatment of your diabetic eye disease and its side effects depends greatly on early diagnosis, and working with your eye doctor to select the right treatment. However, your attitude and attention to medications and diet are essential. You must maintain blood sugar levels, avoid smoking, watch your blood pressure, and follow and physical activity instructions prescribed by your doctor.

Visit Your Eye Doctor Today

Early detection of diabetic retinopathy is the best protection against loss of vision. People with diabetes should schedule examinations with their eye doctors at least once a year. More frequent medical eye examinations may be necessary if any degree of diabetic eye disease has been diagnosed. Vision loss is largely preventable if you take the right steps and take care of all aspects of your diabetes. With careful monitoring, your eye doctor can help you before any negative side effects occur. Contact us at the Mitchell Eye Center today!

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