Have a symptom?
See what questions
a doctor would ask.
Symptoms » Diabetic retinopathy

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: 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 symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, such as ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Diabetic retinopathy:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Diabetic retinopathy. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

  • Excessive alcohol - alcohol if used to extreme, reduces Vitamin B12 and thiamine levels. It is unclear what effect moderate alcohol has on retinopathy.
  • High cholesterol - cholesterol can exacerbate retinopathy and further damage in the small blood vessels of the eye, just as cholesterol can cause hardening of larger artery blood vessels.
  • Pregnancy - can exacerbate existing retinopathy though probably not cause it directly.
  • more causes...»

» Review Causes of Diabetic retinopathy: Causes | Symptom Checker »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Diabetic retinopathy

Home medical tests possibly related to Diabetic retinopathy:

Diabetic retinopathy: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Diabetic retinopathy, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

Symptom Checker

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 nerve and blood ...Diabetic retinopathy Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Diabetic retinopathy may include:

Review further information on Diabetic retinopathy Treatments.

Stories from Users for Diabetic retinopathy

Real-life user stories relating to Diabetic retinopathy:

Diabetic retinopathy: Animations

Diabetic retinopathy: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Diabetic retinopathy may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Research the causes of related medical symptoms such as:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Diabetic retinopathy

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Diabetic retinopathy:

Diabetic retinopathy: Deaths

Read more about causes and Diabetic retinopathy deaths.

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

Metabolic syndrome often undiagnosed: Metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, is an often overlooked medical condition that causes a cluster of more »

Heart attacks can be undiagnosed: Although the most severe symptoms of heart attack are hard to miss, there are varying degrees of severity. It is altogether too common for people to die from undiagnosed heart attack, or more »

Heart attacks can be overdiagnosed: Although many people die from heart attacks, there are also many cases where people fear that they have a heart attack, but actually have something milder. Some of the conditions which may be causes of chest pain, more »

Cluster of diseases with difficult diagnosis issues: There is a well-known list of medical conditions that are all somewhat difficult to diagnose, and all can more »

Alzheimer's disease over-diagnosed: The well-known disease of Alzheimer's disease is often over-diagnosed. Patients tend to assume that any memory loss more »

Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for a patient to show mental decline to dementia. Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various more »

Tremor need not be Parkinson's disease: There is the tendency to believe that any tremor symptom, or shakiness, means Parkinson's disease. more »

Poorly healing leg rashes a classic sign of chronic disease: Recurring leg rashes, or poorly healing leg rashes, are a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes, particularly of more »

Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps, particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed diabetes. However, there are also various other causes. more »

Rare diseases misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease: A rare genetic disorder is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease for men in their 50's. The disease Fragile X disorder can show only mild symptoms in the early years, and Parkinsons-like symptoms around age more »

Over-diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension in obese patients: A diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension, particularly pulmonary arterial hypertension, is often a misdiagnosis in obese patients. Exertional dyspnea leads to a diagnostic reading of high more »

Obesity-related conditions undiagnosed in children: A variety of conditions are associated with obesity (see obesity), but these tend to be undiagnosed more often more »

Misdiagnosed weight-related causes of infertility: A woman's weight status can affect her level of fertility. Although obesity or overweight can in themselves reduce fertility, more »

Diabetic retinopathy: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Diabetic retinopathy

Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Diabetic retinopathy:

Diabetic retinopathy: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Diabetic retinopathy: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Causes of Diabetic retinopathy listed in Disease Database:

Other medical conditions listed in the Disease Database as possible causes of Diabetic retinopathy as a symptom include:

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)

This disorder can result from diabetes. It happens when small blood vessels stop feeding the... (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)

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

Detailed list of causes of Diabetic retinopathy

The list below shows some of the causes of Diabetic retinopathy mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Diabetic retinopathy?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Diabetic retinopathy. Of the 9 causes of Diabetic retinopathy that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 4 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 1 causes are "common" diseases
  • 2 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 0 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 0 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 7 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Diabetic retinopathy:

The following list of conditions have 'Diabetic retinopathy' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Diabetic retinopathy or choose View All.


Conditions listing medical complications: Diabetic retinopathy:

The following list of medical conditions have Diabetic retinopathy or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.



Join in at the forums

Ask or answer a question about symptoms or diseases at one of our free interactive user forums.

Medical story forums: If you have a medical story then we want to hear it.

See a list of all the medical forums

Causes of Diabetic retinopathy Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Diabetic retinopathy based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Classifications of Diabetic retinopathy:

    Medical Conditions associated with Diabetic retinopathy:

    Retina symptoms (307 causes), Diabetes-like symptoms (212 causes), Eye symptoms (5412 causes), Pancreas symptoms (271 causes), Vision symptoms (2526 causes), Head symptoms (10192 causes), Metabolic symptoms (391 causes), Diabetes-related symptoms (327 causes), Digestive symptoms (5299 causes), Abdominal symptoms (5930 causes), Visual problems (2143 causes), Vision distortion (1970 causes), Face symptoms (8109 causes), Upper abdominal symptoms (2707 causes)

    Symptoms related to Diabetic retinopathy:

    Retinopathy (84 causes), Retinal symptoms, Diabetes (212 causes), Excessive alcohol, High cholesterol (40 causes), Pregnancy (699 causes), Diabetes mellitus type 1, Diabetes mellitus type 2

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Evidence Based Medicine Research for Diabetic retinopathy

    Medical research papers related to Diabetic retinopathy include:

    Research More Evidence-Based Medicine at

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Diabetic Retinopathy:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


    By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use. Information provided on this site is for informational purposes only; it is not intended as a substitute for advice from your own medical team. The information on this site is not to be used for diagnosing or treating any health concerns you may have - please contact your physician or health care professional for all your medical needs. Please see our Terms of Use.

    Home | Symptoms | Diseases | Diagnosis | Videos | Tools | Forum | About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Advertise