Diabetic Retinopathy

Symptoms: 

Typical symptoms of retinopathy include:

  • Sudden changes in vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain in the eye
  • Seeing spots
  • Loss of vision
  • Double vision
  • Floaters in your vision
  • Night vision loss
Tests to diagnose: 

Diagnoses include:

  • Visual acuity test. This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
  • Dilated eye exam. Drops are placed in your eyes to widen, or dilate, the pupils. This allows the eye care professional to see more of the inside of your eyes to check for signs of the disease. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems. After the exam, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.
  • Tonometry. An instrument measures the pressure inside the eye. Numbing drops may be applied to your eye for this test.
Treatment: 

Retinopathy of prematurity — No treatment is recommended during the early stages. However, close monitoring is essential.

An ophthalmologist should examine high-risk infants before they are discharged from the hospital. Infants should be examined again at 8 weeks of age.

If the disease is active, the infant should be examined every 1 to 2 weeks until he or she is 14 weeks old. After that, they should be examined every 1 to 2 months.

More advanced disease may require treatment. A procedure called cryotherapy uses cold to destroy abnormal blood vessels. Laser treatments may also be used. A detached retina can be reattached.

Diabetic retinopathy — Specific treatment for diabetic retinopathy depends on the nature of the problem:

  • Proliferative disease and swelling or leaking of the retina can be treated with laser therapy.
  • The formation of new blood vessels is treated with laser surgery. This creates scars that slow the growth of new blood vessels. Laser surgery also is used to secure the retina to the back of the eye.
  • Bleeding that clouds vision can be treated by removing all or part of the vitreous. Laser surgery may be used.
  • Retinal detachment requires surgical reattachment of the retina. All or part of the vitreous may be removed.
  • Blood sugar and blood pressure must be controlled to keep diabetic retinopathy from getting worse.

Hypertensive retinopathy — Medications can lower blood pressure. This can lead to improvements in the retina. People with very high blood pressure and swelling of the optic nerve require emergency treatment in a hospital.

Central serous retinopathy — this condition usually goes away on its own. An ophthalmologist should monitor you closely for three to six months. If the condition does not improve, laser treatment may speed healing.