Diabetic retinopathy

La diabetic retinopathy is a vascular disease caused by a metabolic decompensation due to diabetes and that affects the retina.

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common diseases of the retina and if not treated correctly it can cause serious vision problems.

Diabetic retinopathy

La diabetic retinopathy is a vascular disease caused by a metabolic decompensation due to diabetes and that affects the retina.

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common diseases of the retina and if not treated correctly it can cause serious vision problems.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a Ophthalmological complication of diabetes caused by the deterioration of blood vessels that nourish the retina in the back of the eye, affecting this light sensitive tissue and can lead to blindness.

La diabetes condition at sight it can cause plasma or blood spills in the area, which in turn causes the appearance of edema in the retina y bleeding producing that the image that the patient perceives is abnormal and blurred.

Risk of developing retinopathy if I am diabetic

The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy is high in patients who have diabetes for a long period of time. Around the 60% of patients with type B diabetes for 15 years or more have abnormalities in the blood vessels in their eyes. Who suffer from Type A or juvenile diabetes are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy at earlier ages.

A lack of metabolic control strict and the lack of ophthalmologic check-ups They are the major triggers that lead to a patient with diabetes can suffer from this condition. Due to the absence of symptoms in the early stages, ophthalmological control is very important to prevent alterations in blood vessels to evolve to serious vision and blindness problems.

Diabetic retinopathy

Eye with diabetic retinopathy

Causes and symptoms of diabetic retinopathy

Diabetes, characterized by high blood sugar levels, after years of evolution can cause the weakening of the small blood vessels in different areas of the body, including those that supply blood to our retina. Pregnancy and high blood pressure often make this condition worse in diabetic patients.

Over the years, the weakness of the blood vessels can cause them to begin to filter blood or fat, leading to an edema in the area that will subsequently produce a clogging of the vessels, initiating a non-proliferative or initial diabetic retinopathy.

The main problem with this condition is that, in its initial phase, it has no symptoms. Only when the retinopathy has advanced is the patient beginning to experience progressive vision loss, which is why ophthalmological exams in people with diabetes, especially after years of suffering from it, are essential to prevent retinal deterioration.

In the case of patients with proliferative retinopathy, the blurred vision or deficient is a alarm signal. When a Bleeding that vitreous dye is experienced a total loss of vision, what is considered as a ophthalmic emergency It requires immediate medical attention.

Types of diabetic retinopathy

There are two forms of diabetic retinopathy that are basically distinguished by the stage in which the disease is found. These are:

Non-proliferative or background diabetic retinopathy

It is considered as a initial stage of this condition, in this phase some blood vessels decrease their size and others increase and form pockets that block blood flow and make the same escape from the eye.

These hemorrhages and blood vessel effusions can cause on the retina blood and cholesterol deposits who are known by the name of exudates. Fortunately, in cases of nonproliferative retinopathy vision is not seriously affected and usually stays stationary, without progressing, in 80% of cases.

In some cases, However, the spilled fluids accumulate in the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision. Direct imaging, reading, and close-up work may deteriorate, and the loss of central vision may end in blindness. The Background retinopathy is a warning sign and it can move forward with a progressive and irreversible deterioration of vision.

types of diabetic retinopathy

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy

It starts as continuation of the previous form, with the addition of new blood vessels that grow on the surface of the retina or optic nerve. These new blood vessels are very fragile and can break and bleed inside the vitreous, a transparent aqueous humor, which will cause it to stain red, preventing the passage of light.

The result will be the Sight loss. In addition to the scar tissue formed from the masses caused by the rupture of blood vessels in the vitreous, this condition it can drag and stretch the retina causing a detachment of it at the posterior pole of the eye. The blood vessels can grow in the iris and cause a typical way of secondary glaucomaSevere vision loss and even blindness, are the end result of this process.


A suit Eye medical exam by an ophthalmologist is the best protection against the progression of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic patients should know the risk of developing vision problems and they should examine their eyes regularly. For their part, non-diabetic patients should also examine their eyes annually, as these controls help detect the presence of diabetes and other diseases.

Yes, detect diabetic retinopathy, the ophthalmologist examines painlessly inside the eye using an instrument called ophthalmoscope. The inside of the eye can also be photographed to provide more information.

Whether detects diabetic retinopathy, the specialist can use a second test method to see which blood vessels are damaged. First, a fluorescent dye In the patient's arm, this dye travels through the bloodstream and into the vessels of the retina. Pictures of the dye should be taken quickly as it flows through the blood vessels of the retina.

This technique, called Fluorescein Angiography, is used by the ophthalmologist to determine the extent of damage and the presence of complications such as vitreous hemorrhages, detached retina o secondary glaucoma.

Treatment of diabetic retinopathy

When diagnosing diabetic retinopathy, the ophthalmologist considers the patient's age, history, lifestyle, and the degree of retinal damage before deciding on treatment or continuing to monitor the progress of the disease. In many cases, active treatment is not necessary and it will be enough to carry out periodic controls by the ophthalmologist.

Laser surgery

Probably the most significant diabetic retinopathy treatment is the use of the laser surgery to seal the affected blood vessel areas and areas of the retina that can deteriorate over time. This method consists of directing a powerful beam of laser light against the damaged retina, small burns from the laser stop the bleeding by sealing the blood vessels, forming small scars inside the eye.

This therapy reduces the abnormal growth of blood vessels and It helps to attach the retina to the back of the eye, does not require incisions and is done in the ophthalmologist's office. If diabetic retinopathy is caught early, photocoagulation by laser surgery can stop its continued damage while in advanced stages of the disease the likelihood of vision loss can be reduced.


However, photocoagulation cannot be used in all patients. Depending on the location and extent of the diabetic retinopathy or if the vitreous is too cloudy with blood, you must opt ​​for a surgery known as vitrectomy.

In this surgical procedure, the blood that fills the vitreous is drawn from the eye and is replaced with an artificial solution, about 70% of patients experience an improvement in vision. The ophthalmologist should recommend a vitrectomy as soon as the vitreous begins to cloud with blood, before it is organized. The time to consider a vitrectomy depends on the extent of damage to the eye, however, if diabetic retinopathy causes detachment of the retina from the back of the eye, it could result in significant vision loss or blindness, unless surgical intervention is performed immediately to clean the vitreous and fix the retina.

El successful treatment of diabetic retinopathy No. depends only one early detection and a correct treatment, but also from the patient attitude and care. You must take all medications and follow a strict diabetes control diet. 

Although physical activity has few problems with retinopathy in its initial phase, the sport o activities that involve sudden head movements, can increase bleeding in proliferative retinopathy. In these cases, the exercise for this type of patients should be moderate.

Prevention of vision loss

A early detection of diabetic retinopathy it is the best protection against vision loss. Even when no symptoms are observed, the diabetic patient should undergo an examination by an ophthalmologist at least once a year.

These medical checkups should be scheduled more frequently after diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy with the possibility of bleeding. In many cases, with careful monitoring, the ophthalmologist can begin treatment before vision is affected.

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Diabetic retinopathy
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Diabetic retinopathy
We explain what is diabetic retinopathy, its causes, the symptoms of it and the most appropriate treatment. Enter here to inform you.
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Área Oftalmológica Avanzada
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