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Diabetes Health Center

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Diabetic Retinopathy - Topic Overview

Most of the time, there are no symptoms of diabetic retinopathy until it starts to change your vision. When this happens, diabetic retinopathy is already severe. Having your eyes checked regularly can find diabetic retinopathy early enough to treat it and help prevent vision loss.

If you notice problems with your vision, call an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) right away. Changes in vision can be a sign of severe damage to your eye. These changes can include floaters, pain in the eye, blurry vision, or new vision loss.

An eye exam by an eye specialist (ophthalmologist or optometrist) is the only way to detect diabetic retinopathy. Having a dilated eye exam regularly can help find retinopathy before it changes your vision. On your own, you may not notice symptoms until the disease becomes severe.

You can lower your chance of damaging small blood vessels in the eye by keeping your blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels within a target range. If you smoke, quit. All of this reduces the risk of damage to the retina. It can also help slow down how quickly your retinopathy gets worse and can prevent future vision loss.

If you have a dilated eye exam regularly, you and your doctor can find diabetic retinopathy before it has a chance to get worse. For most people, this will mean an eye exam every year. Finding retinopathy early gives you a better chance of avoiding vision loss and blindness.

Surgery, laser treatment, or medicine may help slow the vision loss caused by diabetic retinopathy. You may need to be treated more than once as the disease gets worse.

Learning about diabetic retinopathy:

Being diagnosed:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 04, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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