Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that occurs when high blood sugar levels in people with diabetes damage blood vessels in the retina. It is the leading cause of blindness in adults, affecting up to 80% of people who have had diabetes for 20 years or more. In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatments for diabetic retinopathy.


Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the small blood vessels that nourish the retina. When the blood vessels are damaged, they may leak fluid and blood into the retina, causing vision problems. High blood sugar levels are the primary cause of diabetic retinopathy. Other factors that can increase the risk of diabetic retinopathy include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and pregnancy.


There are two main types of diabetic retinopathy: non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy and proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

  • Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the early stage of the disease and occurs when small blood vessels in the retina leak fluid or blood. This can cause swelling in the retina and vision problems.
  • Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is a more advanced stage of the disease and occurs when new blood vessels grow in the retina. These new blood vessels are weak and can leak blood into the eye, causing vision problems and blindness.


In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, there may be no symptoms. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include blurred vision, dark or empty spots in the vision, difficulty seeing at night, flashes of light, or even vision loss.


The goal of treatment for diabetic retinopathy is to slow or stop the progression of the disease and prevent further vision loss. Treatment options include:

  • Controlling blood sugar levels: This is the most important step in managing diabetic retinopathy. Keeping blood sugar levels within a target range can slow the progression of the disease and reduce the risk of vision loss.
  • Blood pressure control: High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the eye and worsen diabetic retinopathy. Controlling blood pressure can help slow the progression of the disease.
  • Laser treatment: Laser treatment can be used to seal leaking blood vessels and prevent new blood vessels from growing.
  • Vitrectomy: In advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy, a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy may be necessary. During a vitrectomy, the vitreous gel inside the eye is removed and replaced with a clear solution.

Ongoing Research

Research is ongoing to better understand the causes and treatment options for diabetic retinopathy. Ongoing research includes studies on the pathophysiology of the disease, genetic studies, and clinical trials testing new treatments. These research activities aim to deepen our understanding of the underlying causes of diabetic retinopathy, explore genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the development of the disease, and develop new treatment approaches, including medications that target specific mechanisms of the disease. Clinical trials are essential in evaluating the safety and efficacy of novel treatments and interventions for diabetic retinopathy, helping to advance the management and care of individuals with this condition.

In Conclusion

Diabetic retinopathy is a serious complication of diabetes that can lead to vision loss and blindness. It is important for people with diabetes to have regular eye exams to detect the disease early and begin treatment. With proper management, the progression of diabetic retinopathy can be slowed, and vision loss can be prevented.

Participate in a Clinical Trial

If you or someone you know is interested in participating in a clinical trial related to diabetic retinopathy, there may be options available in your area. Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate new treatments, therapies, or interventions for a particular condition. By participating in a clinical trial, individuals can help advance our understanding of diabetic retinopathy and potentially benefit from new treatment options.

Enrolling in a clinical trial involves meeting certain eligibility criteria and following a study protocol that outlines the procedures, treatments, and assessments involved. Participants may receive compensation for their time and travel expenses. If you are interested in learning more about clinical trials for diabetic retinopathy or other conditions, click here to search for active trials in your area.  Also review the Frequently Asked Question section by clicking here.  The FAQ answers many questions relating to how to enroll, what should be expected and many other areas of interest.