What is diabetic retinopathy?

Definition: In diabetes, sugar metabolism is poorly controlled. Poor control of sugar levels in the body causes destruction of blood vessels throughout the body, including the retina.  This in turns causes normal blood vessels in the retina to leak causing the retina to be water-logged. This is called 'diabetic maculopathy'. The 2nd type of problem is 'ischaemia' where the normal blood flow in the retina stops. This causes abnormal blood vessels to form causing it to potentially bleed and cause pulling on the retina. This is called 'proliferative diabetic retinopathy'.

Monitoring: To maintain good vision and avoid the complications of diabetic retinopathy, it is necessary for diabetics to have an annual  comprehensive eye exam.  We will not only detect and treat your diabetic eye condition, we will also screen for glaucoma and cataract which are more common in diabetics compared to the normal population. 


Laser: Laser treatment has been the standard treatment. It can slow or stabilize the diabetic retinopathy, but it does not cure the problem. It can 'dry up' the water-logged retina in 'diabetic maculopathy' when applied to the macula. It can also stop the further progression of abnormal blood vessel growth in 'proliferative diabetic retinopathy'. 

Intravitreal injections: Different types of injections directly into the eye are now available in some cases which do not respond to laser treatment. These include steroids and 'anti-vascular endothelial growth factor' (anti-VEGF) agents.

Surgery: When there is a bleed into the vitreous cavity of the eye, this can obstruct the vision severely. In these cases, surgery can be performed to clear the blood and treat the retina at the same time. In some cases, surgery is the only option. 

Treatment Options: Your LEC specialist will explain the most suitable treatment for you and discuss why this is best. Please contact us to make an appointment.