Diabetes is a disease where your body cannot regulate its sugar levels. Your eyes are one of the organs affected by diabetes. If your eyes are affected

it is called diabetic retinopathy and is potentially blinding. For this reason it is important to regulary undergo a thorough eye examination by a ophthalmologist.

Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy:

Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy.

This condition is very common in people who have had diabetes for five years or longer. At this stage the blood vessels in the retina are only mildly affected. There may be areas of swelling and haemorrhage. Your vision may still be normal at this stage depending on the area of the retina that is affected.

Diabetic Maculopathy.

This refers to swelling or haemorrhage in the macula of the retina. This will affect your central vision. You may notice a decrease or distortion in your vision. This is usually when your ophthalmologist will start treatment.

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy.

Retinopathy progresses over time to a more serious stage where the blood vessels are so damaged that they close off. In response, new vessels are weak and bleed into the cavity of the eye. This is called vitreous haemorrhage. The new blood vessels grow into vitreous gel from the surface of the retina. Following this, scar tissue starts growing into this cavity too. Then the scar tissue shrinks and pulls the retina out of place - this is called tractional retinal detachment. At this stage your vision will be poor and surgery would be necessary.

All people with diabetes - both type 1 and type 2 are at risk. It is therefore imperactive that everyone with diabetes should undergo a comprehensive dilated eye examination at least once a year.

During the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, no treatment is usually needed. Your ophthalmologist will decide to initiate treatment when your vision becomes threatend or the retinopathy progresses into your macula.

Areas of leakage can be treated with laser treatment or injections into the eye. The laser seals the leaks and the retina then clears up the fluid.

Proliferactive retinopathy is treated with surgery. This procedure is called the vitrectomy and is performed under ether local or general anaesthesia.

  • Often there are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease.
  • Early in the course of the diabetes there may be several small blind spots in the field of vision.
  • Blurred vision may occur
  • Proliferactive retinopathy with traction retinal detachment causes distortion and severe loss of vision.


  • Early diasgnosis of diabetic retinopathy is vital.
  • Anual eye exams are essential.
  • Do not wait until your vision has deteriorated to undergo an eye exam.
  • Early treatment of disbetic retinopathy cannot be stressed enough.
  • Strict control of your diabetes significantly reduces sight threatening.
  • Control your high blood pressure.
  • Control high cholersterol.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Regular moderate excercise.
  • Do not miss your annual eye exam.