Home > Health A – Z > Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy

Damage to the blood vessels in the retina due to diabetes.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Eye Institute)

About Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes and a leading cause of blindness. It occurs when diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels inside the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. A healthy retina is necessary for good vision.

If you have diabetic retinopathy, at first you may notice no changes to your vision. But over time, diabetic retinopathy can get worse and cause vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes.

What are the stages of diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy has four stages:

1. Mild nonproliferative retinopathy: At this earliest stage, microaneurysms occur. They are small areas of balloon-like swelling in the tiny blood vessels of the retina.

2. Moderate nonproliferative retinopathy: As the disease progresses, some blood vessels that nourish the retina are blocked.

3. Severe nonproliferative retinopathy: Many more blood vessels are blocked, depriving several areas of the retina of their blood supply. These areas of the retina send signals to the body to grow new blood vessels for nourishment....Read more about Diabetic Retinopathy NIH - National Eye Institute

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Vitamin C and superoxide dismutase (SOD) for diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy or eye disease is the leading cause of blindness in developed countries. Laser therapy currently is the primary means in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. It nevertheless is a procedure which destroys important cells in the eye. There are theories that so‐called free radicals (substances which are thought to be harmful to body tissues) might be influenced by new medications to prevent or slow down vision loss in people with diabetes. Preliminary studies with vitamin C and 'superoxide dismutase' suggest that they may have an important role in treatment of diabetic retinopathy.

Anti‐VEGF for prevention of postoperative vitreous cavity haemorrhage after vitrectomy for proliferative diabetic retinopathy

POVCH is a significant complication following vitrectomy (removal of the vitreous gel from the posterior chamber of the eye) for the treatment of proliferative retinopathy (the growth of abnormal blood vessels from the retina, a layer of tissue at the back of the eye), occurring in approximately 30% of cases. POVCH has two main forms: early, when haemorrhage (bleeding) is present in the first few postoperative days, and late, when haemorrhage occurs a number of months after surgery. The presence of POVCH delays visual recovery, can lead to elevated pressure within the eye, and can make further treatment for diabetic retinopathy difficult. Ten per cent of patients require revision surgery, which has significant implications for resources, time, and cost. The use of anti‐VEGF before surgery (preoperatively) has been proposed as an intervention to reduce the incidence of POVCH.

Laser photocoagulation for proliferative diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a common problem for people with diabetes and can lead to loss of vision. The back of the eye (retina) can develop problems because of diabetes, including the growth of harmful new blood vessels (proliferative DR, referred to here as 'PDR'). Laser photocoagulation is a commonly used treatment for DR in which the eye doctor uses a laser on the back of the eye to stop some of the harmful changes.

See all (198)

Summaries for consumers

Vitamin C and superoxide dismutase (SOD) for diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy or eye disease is the leading cause of blindness in developed countries. Laser therapy currently is the primary means in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. It nevertheless is a procedure which destroys important cells in the eye. There are theories that so‐called free radicals (substances which are thought to be harmful to body tissues) might be influenced by new medications to prevent or slow down vision loss in people with diabetes. Preliminary studies with vitamin C and 'superoxide dismutase' suggest that they may have an important role in treatment of diabetic retinopathy.

Anti‐VEGF for prevention of postoperative vitreous cavity haemorrhage after vitrectomy for proliferative diabetic retinopathy

POVCH is a significant complication following vitrectomy (removal of the vitreous gel from the posterior chamber of the eye) for the treatment of proliferative retinopathy (the growth of abnormal blood vessels from the retina, a layer of tissue at the back of the eye), occurring in approximately 30% of cases. POVCH has two main forms: early, when haemorrhage (bleeding) is present in the first few postoperative days, and late, when haemorrhage occurs a number of months after surgery. The presence of POVCH delays visual recovery, can lead to elevated pressure within the eye, and can make further treatment for diabetic retinopathy difficult. Ten per cent of patients require revision surgery, which has significant implications for resources, time, and cost. The use of anti‐VEGF before surgery (preoperatively) has been proposed as an intervention to reduce the incidence of POVCH.

Laser photocoagulation for proliferative diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a common problem for people with diabetes and can lead to loss of vision. The back of the eye (retina) can develop problems because of diabetes, including the growth of harmful new blood vessels (proliferative DR, referred to here as 'PDR'). Laser photocoagulation is a commonly used treatment for DR in which the eye doctor uses a laser on the back of the eye to stop some of the harmful changes.

See all (31)

Terms to know

Blood Vessels
Tubes that carry blood to and from all parts of the body. The three main types of blood vessels are arteries, capillaries, and veins.
Comprehensive Dilated Eye Examination
A test done by an eye care specialist in which the pupil - the black center - of the eye is temporarily enlarged with eyedrops to allow the specialist to see the inside of the eye more easily.
Eye
Eyes are the organs of vision. They detect light and convert it.
Macular Edema
When fluid leaks into the center of the macula, the part of the eye where sharp, straight-ahead vision occurs. The fluid makes the macula swell, blurring vision.
Retina
The light-sensitive tissue lining at the back of the eye. The retina converts light into electrical impulses that are sent to the brain through the optic nerve.
Retinopathy
Retinopathy is persistent or acute damage to the retina of the eye.

More about Diabetic Retinopathy

Photo of an adult woman

Also called: DR

See Also: Diabetes Mellitus

Other terms to know: See all 6
Blood Vessels, Comprehensive Dilated Eye Examination, Eye

Keep up with systematic reviews on Diabetic Retinopathy:

Create RSS

PubMed Health Blog...

read all...