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Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy: Introduction

Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes in which the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the retina of the eye are damaged due to long-term high levels of blood sugar (hyperglycemia). The retina is a light-sensitive membrane that lines the back of the eye and a healthy retina is vital to normal vision.

Diabetic retinopathy generally develops slowly over a period of months as ongoing high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels of the retina. This leads to leaking or bleeding of the blood vessels or the growth of abnormal blood vessels. These processes can prevent light from reaching the retina. This leads to the typical symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, such as changes in vision, including blurred vision. There also may be eye pain in diabetic retinopathy. However, in early stages of diabetic retinopathy, there may be no noticeable symptoms.

In later stages of diabetic neuropathy, serious complications can result, including retinal detachment and blindness. For more details about complications and symptoms, see symptoms of diabetic retinopathy.

Diagnosing diabetic retinopathy begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination, including an extensive eye examination. Diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy is generally made by an eye specialist called an ophthalmologist.

An eye examination includes testing visual acuity or sharpness of vision, checking the sharpness of peripheral vision, and testing the pressure inside the eye. The outer eye is examined using an instrument called a slit lamp, and the inner eye is examined using an instrument called an ophthalmoscope. During the exam with an ophthalmoscope, the pupils of the eye are dilated (opened up) with a drop of medication so that the ophthalmologist can best see any changes in the retina that are signs of diabetic retinopathy such as leaking blood vessels, or abnormal new blood vessels.

A diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy and its cause can be delayed or missed because symptoms develop gradually. In addition, symptoms of diabetic retinopathy are similar to symptoms of other eye diseases and conditions. For information about disease and conditions that can mimic retinopathy, refer to misdiagnosis of diabetic retinopathy.

Prevention of diabetic retinopathy is very important for people with diabetes. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely a person will develop diabetic retinopathy. Good control of blood sugar levels minimizes the risks of developing diabetic retinopathy and can slow progression of the condition. For more information on prevention and treatment, refer to treatment of diabetic retinopathy. ...more »

Diabetic Retinopathy: Retinal eye problems are the more serious eye problem for diabetics. In fact, retinopathy is so common in diabetics that it has its own name: either "diabetic retinopathy" or the worst form "proliferative diabetic retinopathy" (PDR). These are a long-term side effect of diabetes, particularly from long-term high blood sugars, but can also be present at diagnosis, especially for Type 2 diabetes. Retinopathy risks increase the longer you have had diabetes, and are thus uncommon in temporary conditions like gestational diabetes. ...more »

Diabetic Retinopathy: Symptoms

People with diabetic retinopathy can experience a variety of symptoms. Diabetic retinopathy generally develops slowly over a period of months as ongoing high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels of the retina. In early stages of diabetic retinopathy, there may be no noticeable symptoms. However, changes in the retina and the blood vessels of the retina may ...more symptoms »

Diabetic Retinopathy: Treatments

The first step in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy is prevention. The damage done to the blood vessels of the retinas of the eyes can be permanent, so it is vital that people with diabetes prevent its occurrence.

Prevention, as well as treatment, includes a consistently following a plan to treat diabetes and normalize blood sugar levels as much as possible to prevent ...more treatments »

Diabetic Retinopathy: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy and its underlying cause of diabetes may be delayed or missed because diabetic retinopathy generally develops gradually. In early stages, there may be no symptoms, and people may be unaware of having diabetes or diabetic retinopathy until complications, such as blurred vision, develop. In addition, some ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Diabetic Retinopathy:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic Retinopathy: Related Patient Stories

Types of Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR)
  • Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR)
  • more types...»

Diagnostic Tests for Diabetic Retinopathy

Test for Diabetic Retinopathy in your own home

Click for Tests
  • Ordinary doctor eye exam - not fully adequate; may not detect non-advanced cases.
  • Dilated eye exam - best performed by eye specialist
  • Eye test (vision test) - not useful; only detects very advanced cases of retinopathy.
  • Dye test (fluorescein angiogram) - This is a special eye that that shows retinal circulation.
  • Amsler grid - A special test that helps you identify what parts of your visual field are damaged.
  • more tests...»

Diabetic Retinopathy: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Diabetic Retinopathy:

Causes of Diabetic Retinopathy

More information about causes of Diabetic Retinopathy:

Disease Topics Related To Diabetic Retinopathy

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Diabetic Retinopathy:

Diabetic Retinopathy: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

In-Depth Reports: Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis

Diabetes diagnosis and misdiagnosis (In-Depth Report): Detailed report on diabetes misdiagnoses, rare curable types, and less common diagnostic full report »

Misdiagnosis and Diabetic Retinopathy

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Diabetic Retinopathy: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Diabetic Retinopathy

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Diabetic Retinopathy:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Diabetic Retinopathy, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Diabetic Retinopathy: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Latest Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Diabetic Retinopathy

Medical research articles related to Diabetic Retinopathy include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Diabetic Retinopathy: Animations

Prognosis for Diabetic Retinopathy

Prognosis for Diabetic Retinopathy: At least 90% of these new cases could be reduced if there was proper and vigilant treatment and monitoring of the eye.

Research about Diabetic Retinopathy

Visit our research pages for current research about Diabetic Retinopathy treatments.

Clinical Trials for Diabetic Retinopathy

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Diabetic Retinopathy include:

Prevention of Diabetic Retinopathy

Prevention information for Diabetic Retinopathy has been compiled from various data sources and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Diabetic Retinopathy.

  • Diabetic control
  • Quit smoking
  • Control blood pressure
  • Careful monitor blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Exercise carefully (weights, headstands) - some types of exercise that increase blood pressure can actually aggravate the eyes and a retinopathy condition.
  • more preventions...»

Statistics for Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy: Broader Related Topics

Diabetic Retinopathy Message Boards

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User Interactive Forums

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Article Excerpts about Diabetic Retinopathy

This disorder can result from diabetes. It happens when small blood vessels stop feeding the retina properly. In the early stages, the blood vessels may leak fluid, which distorts sight. In the later stages, new vessels may grow and send blood into the center of the eye, causing serious vision loss. In most cases, laser treatment can prevent blindness. It is very important that people with diabetes have an eye exam through dilated pupils every year. (Source: excerpt from Aging and Your Eyes -- Age Page -- Health Information: NIA)

Definitions of Diabetic Retinopathy:

Retinal changes occurring in diabetes mellitus, marked by microaneurysms, exudates, and hemorrhages, and sometimes by neovascularization. - (Source - Diseases Database)


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