Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Causes and Treatments of Diabetic Retinopathy

Prevention of Diabetic Retinopathy continued...

Routine screening offers the best hope for early detection of diabetic retinopathy. People with type 1 diabetes should have a complete eye exam within five years of diagnosis; those with type 2 should have an eye exam at the time their diabetes is diagnosed. After these initial exams, all people with diabetes should have an eye exam at least once a year. Your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings depending on the severity of retinal damage and on other diabetes complications you have.

Pregnancy can precipitate or worsen retinopathy in women with diabetes who take insulin, so any such woman considering pregnancy should discuss the risks with her doctor. Your doctor will usually recommend an eye exam before pregnancy, a second exam during the first trimester, and additional exams at intervals based on the status of your retinopathy. Women who suddenly develop diabetes during a pregnancy (gestational diabetes) are not at risk of developing retinopathy during the pregnancy.

High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and obesity can all promote diabetic retinopathy and should be treated. Smoking is also a culprit: Consult with your doctor about methods for quitting. Never ignore the symptoms of infection, which can worsen diabetic retinopathy. Cataract surgery can affect existing retinopathy, too, so discuss the timing of treatments for retinopathy and cataracts with your doctor.

Researchers continue to investigate new drugs that may prevent or slow diabetic retinopathy; your doctor can provide information about the latest medications approved for these purposes. Depending on the severity of your diabetes and related complications, you may also want to discuss the options of pancreas and kidney transplants, which may protect against retinopathy.

Call Your Doctor About Diabetic Retinopathy If:

  • You or your child has been diagnosed with diabetes and you have not discussed retinopathy and routine eye exams with your doctor.
  • You experience either gradual or sudden loss of vision.
  • You have diabetes and are considering pregnancy.
  • You are having trouble sticking to your doctor's recommendations for controlling blood sugar.
  • You have vision loss and would like to discuss options for improving your vision.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on September 30, 2014
1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
jennie brand miller

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner