Diabetic retinopathy is a condition common in people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in which high blood sugar damages and even blocks blood flow to the retina, or the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. The disease causes significant visual impairment (i.e., blurry or double vision, “floaters” or shadows across the field of vision) and an eventual loss of vision. Many people with diabetes develop diabetic retinopathy at some point in their lives.

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy:

  • Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy – NPDR occurs when new blood vessels have not begun to form in the retina, but existing blood vessels have been blocked or weakened.
  • Proliferative diabetic retinopathy – PDR occurs when new, abnormal blood vessels have begun to form in the retina in addition to a blockage of existing blood vessels.

Can diabetic retinopathy be prevented?

The best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy is to control your blood sugar levels, but the longer you have had diabetes, the more at risk you are for this condition.

You can take steps to reduce your risk for diabetic retinopathy by refraining from smoking and keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure under control, but even with these steps, it is important that you visit California Retina Associates for yearly eye exams if you have diabetes. Pregnancy can also worsen diabetic retinopathy, so if you are pregnant, it’s important that your eye doctor monitor you closely.

What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause complications, including macular edema, vitreous hemorrhage and retinal detachment. Diabetic retinopathy also significantly raises the risk of other eye diseases like glaucoma and cataracts. The most advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy can result in a complete, irreversible loss of vision.

How is diabetic retinopathy treated?

Controlling your diabetes and avoiding risk factors is the best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy, but even these methods may ultimately prove ineffective. Once detected, our doctors can provide diabetic retinopathy treatment options including laser procedures to seal leaking blood vessels and prevent new vessels from growing, or, when necessary, a vitrectomy. The treatment best for you will be dependent on the stage at which your condition is detected.

Why should I work with California Retina Associates?

The eye doctors at California Retina Associates are nationally recognized experts in retinal care. Using state-of-the-art technology and the most advanced diagnostic and treatment options, we are able to address even advanced stages (PDR) of this vision-threatening disorder. We are one of only a handful of practices that focuses on retinal disorders, enabling us to provide the most effective treatments available.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, or are experiencing any troubling symptoms, please call (619) 425-7755 or (760) 352-7755, or contact California Retina Associates online to schedule a comprehensive evaluation at one of our San Diego-area locations.