Diabetic Eye Disease


Diabetic eye disease occurs when high blood sugar levels cause damage to the blood vessels within the retina. The blood vessels can swell and leak, close and stop blood from passing through, or new, abnormal vessels can grow in the retina, all of which can cause vision loss.

Types of Diabetic Eye Disease

  • NDPR (non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy) is the early stage of diabetic eye disease where tiny blood vessels leak, causing the retina to swell. When the macula (located within the retina) swells, this is called macular edema, which is the most common reason people with diabetes lose their vision.
  • PDR (proliferative diabetic retinopathy) is what occurs when the retina begins growing new blood vessles, which is called neovascularization. The new vessels are fragile and often bleed into the vitreous. Little bleeding may cause floaters, while lots of bleeing may block all vision. The vessels can also cause scar tissue, which harms the macula and can lead to a detached retina.


The symptoms of diabetic eye disease include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Vision that shifts from blurry to clear
  • An increased number of floaters
  • Blank or dark fields in vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Colors appear faded or washed out


If you have diabetes, it's important to have regular dilated eye exams so that diabetic eye disease can be found before it causes any vision loss.

With diabetic eye disease, controlling your blood sugar is very important. Sometimes vision can even be brought back if good blood sugar levels are maintained. Other treatments include eye injections to reduce macular swelling, laser surgery to seal leaking blood vessels, and vitrectomy surgery to remove vitreous gel and blood from leaking vessels, allow light rays to focus on the retina again, and potentially remove scar tissue from the retina.

For more information and to schedule a comprehensive eye exam, give us a call today!

EIC: Diabetes Awareness

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