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Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment: What Are Your Options?

Expertly reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD · Internal or General Medicine

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jun 03, 2022

Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment: What Are Your Options?

Diabetic retinopathy refers to an eye condition that can, over time, develop in people with diabetes. It gradually deteriorates a person’s retina or the light-sensitive lining part at the back of the eye. Thus, causing vision changes. Read on to know the diabetic retinopathy treatment suitable for you. 

How Can Diabetes Affect Your Vision?

The retina converts light into electrical signals that are sent to the brain, where they are translated into the images you see. It requires a stable blood supply, which it obtains via a network of tiny blood vessels. 

However, diabetic people normally have too much sugar in the blood, which causes the obstruction of those tiny blood vessels. Over time, it then cuts off the blood supply. Hence, the eyes make an attempt to form new blood vessels. However, they do not develop properly and can easily leak. 

You may not notice any symptoms during the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. But as the condition worsens, you may experience one or more of the following:

  • Blurred or patchy vision
  • Fluctuating vision 
  • Eye floaters (spots floating in your vision)
  • Eye pain or redness in the eyes
  • Poor night vision
  • Vision loss

In addition, diabetic retinopathy treatment may vary depending on the age, general health, and the symptoms you exhibit. 

What Are the Risk Factors? 

Diabetic retinopathy can affect anyone who has diabetes, regardless of the type (type 1, type 2, or even gestational diabetes). The following factors can increase the likelihood of developing the eye condition:

  • Being diabetic for a long period of time 
  • Poor control of blood sugar levels
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol 
  • Being pregnant
  • Smoking 

How is it Diagnosed?

In addition to the complete health history and eye exam, your eye doctor may perform a series of tests like:

  • Visual acuity test
  • Tonometry
  • Pupil dilation
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Fluorescein angiography
  • Optical coherence tomography

Can Diabetic Retinopathy Lead to Other Complications?

If you do not get diabetic retinopathy treatment or management, it can lead to various serious eye conditions, including: 

  • Diabetic macular edema
  • Neovascular glaucoma
  • Retinal detachment
  • Vitreous hemorrhage  
  • What Are Some Diabetic Retinopathy Treatments?

    Depending on the symptoms, treatment varies according to the severity of the disease. 

    If you have the advanced type of retinopathy and you get diabetic retinopathy treatment before the retina becomes severely damaged, then you have a good chance of retaining your vision.

    Here are some possible diabetic retinopathy treatment options that you may want to consider:

    Laser Surgery

    This treatment is frequently the option to treat proliferative retinopathy and, in some cases, macular edema. It entails either shrinking or sealing the abnormal blood vessels.

    Eye doctors opt for laser surgery since the new blood vessels are often very weak, thus, causing eye bleeding. 

    Like any other type of surgical procedure, you may experience some side effects after the treatment. These may include blurry vision, increased sensitivity to light, and even some discomfort. 


    This refers to a surgical procedure of the vitreous gel (jelly-like substance) that occupies the center of the eye.

    In this kind of treatment, the ophthalmologist takes out the vitreous gel and blood from leaking vessels and replaces it with a balanced saline solution. This enables light rays to maintain focus on the retina once more. The ophthalmologist may also remove scar tissue from the retina if there is any. 

    Eye Injections

    Certain drugs known as vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors are injected into the eye to treat macular edema. They also help slow down the growth of abnormal retinal vessels and the reduction of fluid buildup. 

    Moreover, eye doctors would need some topical anesthesia to inject these kinds of drugs. You may experience mild discomfort like burning, tearing, or pain 24 hours after the injection. Some possible side effects also include an increase in eye pressure and infection. 

    On the flip side, you may need to get these injections again after some time. In some cases, the medication is combined with photocoagulation.

    Key Takeaways

    Diabetes is a common disease that hinders the body’s ability to use sugar, thus, causing various changes in the body and diabetic retinopathy treatment can delay or stop the progression of the eye condition. However, diabetes is a chronic disease, so it is still possible to have future retinal damage and vision loss. 

    Regular eye exams, good control of both blood sugar and blood pressure, and early treatment for vision problems all work to prevent severe vision loss.

    Learn more about Diabetic Complications here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Expertly reviewed by

    Dexter Macalintal, MD

    Internal or General Medicine

    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Jun 03, 2022

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