Diabetic Retinopathy

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the blood vessels in the retina (the back of the eye). Fluctuating sugar levels from diabetes can weaken the blood vessels causing them to leak fluid and blood, causing them to become blocked, or causing abnormal blood vessels to grow.

What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?

  • Blurry vision
  • Seeing an increased number of floaters
  • Having fluctuating vision where sometimes it’s clear and sometimes it’s blurry
  • Having difficulty with night vision
  • Experiencing faded colors

How is it diagnosed?

It is recommended that everyone with diabetes have a dilated eye exam every year. During the exam Dr. Waters will get a good look at the back of the eye and take detailed photos of the retina to monitor any changes. If there are changes, a test called a Flourescein Angiography is done to determine the extent of the damage and how best to treat it.

How is diabetic retinopathy treated?

Treatment of diabetic retinopathy depends on the location of the disease and the degree of damage to the retina. If the damage to the blood vessels occurs only in the peripheral (side) retina, careful monitoring of the disease may be all that is necessary. When the damage affects the central vision, however, laser treatment is usually necessary.

In cases where there are leaking blood vessels Dr. Waters uses a laser to seal the vessels and reduce their leakage. In cases where there is an abnormal growth of blood vessels or large areas without adequate blood flow, the laser reduces the need for nutrients thus stunting the growth of further abnormal vessels. Treatment is usually painless and is done in the office. Dr. Waters is committed to bringing patients the most effective technology to treat this disease, and now he can offer patients treatment with the newest and most advanced German-engineered Zeiss laser available.


Since there is no cure for diabetes yet, close monitoring and management of the disease is the best way to prevent blindness. It is recommended that people with diabetes have an annual dilated eye exam to check the health of the eyes and detect early signs of diabetic retinopathy.

The single most important thing a person with diabetes can do to prevent the complications of diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy, is to control blood sugar. Avoiding tobacco, eating a healthy diet, controlling blood pressure and exercising daily are also very important.

If you have diabetes and need an eye exam, click here or call our office at 810-732-2272, so we can be of service.