Dr Ajith

Medical Director,

Clinical and Imaging Services,

Anand Diagnostic Laboratory

Introduction :

Diabetic retinopathy is the hallmark & most specific complication of Diabetes. It is one of the leading causes of blindness, which is preventable by regular eye screening.

How does diabetes affect retina?

Prolonged high blood sugars cause injury or damage the blood vessels, resulting in fluid leaks & swelling of the retina, the inner lining of the eye that is often compared to a film screen on which images are formed. Unchecked this may progress to blindness.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy:

Diabetic retinopathy may not cause any noticeable symptoms, especially in the early stages!

In fact, pain is almost invariably absent in Diabetic retinopathy. As the condition progresses it may cause

  1. Blurring or double vision,
  2. Dark / Black spots in the vision field,
  3. Floaters
  4. Poor night vision.




As the retinal changes progress, eyesight eventually deteriorates.

Risk factors for Diabetic Retinopathy:

  1. Long Duration of diabetes
  2. Glycemic control ( Blood sugar levels )
  3. High Blood pressure
  4. High Cholesterol
  5. Smoking
  6. Pre – existing eye diseases. Eg: Glaucoma


Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy:
1. Non-proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR):

This stage is reversible & appropriate medical care like strict control of Blood sugars, Blood pressures & cholesterols are emphasized. Close follow up with the Diabetologist & Eye specialist is recommended.


2. Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (Sight-threatening)

This stage warrants immediate specialist care as there is a high risk of Haemorrhage (bleeding within the eye) & retinal detachment leading to permanent Blindness.

Diagnosing Diabetic Retinopathy:

Diagnosis of Diabetic retinopathy requires detailed examination by the eye doctor or the Retina specialist.

Instruments like ophthalmoscopes, Slit lamp microscopes and specialized tests like Fundus angiography & scans like Optical coherence tomography (OCT) are generally used in the diagnosis of Diabetic retinopathy.

Who should be screened?

All Diabetic patients should be regularly screened for Retinopathy as recommended by the treating Doctor or at least once a year.

Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy:

  1. Diabetic retinopathy is generally treated by laser photocoagulation.
  2. Strict control of Blood sugars, Blood pressures & high Cholesterols.

Prevention of Diabetic Retinopathy:

Strict control of Blood sugars, Blood pressures & high Cholesterols.

Periodic / Regular eye check is the most important aspect in preventing & early diagnosis of Diabetic retinopathy.

All diabetics should get their eyes screened for DR.

Diabetic Retinopathy Screening (DRS):

  1. DRS is a simple & quick test for identifying people with Diabetic retinopathy.
  2. The test is totally painless & does not even require the application of eye drops.
  3. The test involves taking a photograph of the retina using a special handheld camera.
  4. The retina image is then analyzed by an expert.
  5. There are no Known side effects of the test.
Published On: February 19th, 2021 / Categories: General Health /

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