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Diabetic Retinopathy

​Contents:

  • What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
  • Diabetic Retinopathy Causes
  • Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms
  • Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment
  • Reasons to Choose Moorfields Private for your Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy occurs as a complication of diabetes when high blood sugar (glucose) levels cause damage to the retina. The retina is made up of layers of light-detecting cells at the back of the eye. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can result in blindness. However, it takes a long period of time for the stages of diabetic retinopathy to progress to a point where your vision is affected.

Diabetic Retinopathy Causes

When diabetics have high blood sugar levels for extended periods, it can cause diabetic retinopathy, which is damage to the blood vessels in the retina. A constant blood supply is needed for the retina, as this tissue lining at the back of the eye is what detects light and converts it into electrical signals. These signals are then sent to the brain to be converted into images. This is how diabetic retinopathy vision loss can occur.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are both diabetic retinopathy risk factors. Up to eight in 10 individuals who have had diabetes for 10 years or more are affected by this eye condition. Other risk factors for diabetic retinopathy include having persistently high blood glucose levels, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Black or Asian patients or pregnant women may also be at an increased risk.

To promote good eye health, it’s important to control your blood sugar, pressure and cholesterol levels. Those who have diabetes and are over 12 years old should also attend diabetic retinopathy screening annually. This is a simple process which involves examining and photographing the eye and can help to detect any issues early.

Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms

One reason why regular diabetic retinopathy screening is so important is because diabetic retinopathy symptoms are not always noticeable until they have progressed to a more serious stage. Early diabetic retinopathy signs can be detected during these tests, meaning the right treatment can be recommended to prevent vision loss.

You will normally be invited for screening every one or two years and appointments should only last around 40 minutes. During the screening, you will be asked to read from charts and may have eye drops administered. Your optometrist will then take photographs of the back of your eye using a special machine (which doesn’t need to make contact with your eye). They will then review the images for signs of any diseases and notify you of your results in writing within three weeks.

Other symptoms of diabetic retinopathy can include;

  • Gradual deterioration of vision, including blurring or patchiness with your vision
  • Sudden loss of vision
  • Redness or pain in the eye
  • Eye floaters

These symptoms are not necessarily a sign that you have the condition. However, if you experience these and have diabetes, it’s recommended that you contact your GP or an eye specialist for a diabetic retinopathy test.

Diabetic Retinopathy Stages and Types

Early diabetic retinopathy stages are unlikely to affect vision, but the condition can progress to being sight-threatening. Mild non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (where tiny bulges appear in the blood vessels in the retina) and moderate to severe non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (where the condition becomes more severe and bleeding into the retina occurs) put you at high risk of experiencing vision issues in the future.

The stages of diabetic retinopathy become much more serious though with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) and diabetic macular oedema (DMO). PDR sees blood vessels in the retina closing, resulting in a loss of blood supply to this part of the eye. Scar tissue and new, fragile blood vessels then form on the retina. These can lead to a significant amount of bleeding and a high risk of scarring on the retina, retinal detachment and vision loss.

Patients with DMO have leaking or blocked blood vessels in their macula (the central area of the retina responsible for central vision and identifying details). As a result, the tissue can swell and vision is highly likely to be affected. Without treatment, patients with DMO may be unable to drive or read, even if their side vision remains normal.

Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment

Diabetics who are over 12 years should have diabetic retinopathy screening each year to detect any issues early. If you experience any diabetic retinopathy symptoms, see your GP or eye specialist immediately.

You will only need to be referred for diabetic retinopathy treatment if significant problems are detected during screening. Otherwise, you can lower your risk of the condition by controlling your blood sugar, pressure and cholesterol, taking your diabetes medication as required, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting regular eye checks.

However, if you do have a more advanced stage of the condition, you may require treatment for diabetic retinopathy. Patients with DMO may require laser photocoagulation. This diabetic retinopathy laser treatment involves slowing leakage and reducing fluid in the eye by placing small laser burns in the damaged areas of the retina. While this treatment may not cause significant improvements to vision, it is important to prevent the further deterioration of vision.

Other options include diabetic retinopathy treatment injection with anti-VEGF medication into the eye. Surgery to remove scar tissue and blood from the eye may be needed for more serious cases. Your eye specialist will be able to advise you on which treatment is best suited for you.

Reasons to choose Moorfields Private for your uveitis treatment

If you choose Moorfields Private for your uveitis treatment, you will benefit from access to some of the country’s top uveitis experts. Working at the top of their professions and with years of experience nationally and internationally in clinical medication and research, All our ophthalmic surgeons hold accredited consultant positions with the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

You will be able to choose your preferred consultant, who will oversee your entire treatment course for a service with complete continuity.

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If you would like to know more about our services or book an appointment please call our New Patient Team.

If you are already a patient at Moorfields Private and have an enquiry, please contact your consultant’s practice manager.

New Patient Team: Freephone 0800 328 3421
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Diabetic Retinopathy consultants

A picture of Professor Narciss Okhravi

Professor Narciss Okhravi


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Ranjan Rajendram

Mr Ranjan Rajendram


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Zubin Saihan

Mr Zubin Saihan


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Paul Sullivan

Mr Paul Sullivan


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Mahi Muqit

Mr Mahi Muqit


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Bishwanath Pal

Mr Bishwanath Pal


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Professor Lyndon Da Cruz

Professor Lyndon Da Cruz


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Robert Henderson

Mr Robert Henderson


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Peter Addison

Mr Peter Addison


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

No image of consultant provided

Mr David Bessant


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Professor Adnan Tufail

Professor Adnan Tufail


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Miss Miriam Minihan

Miss Miriam Minihan


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Professor James Bainbridge

Professor James Bainbridge


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Miss Dawn Sim

Miss Dawn Sim


Associate Professor

A picture of Miss Dhanes Thomas

Miss Dhanes Thomas


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Niaz Islam

Mr Niaz Islam


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Professor Carlos Pavesio

Professor Carlos Pavesio


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Chien Wong

Mr Chien Wong


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Professor David Charteris

Professor David Charteris


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Professor Mandeep Sagoo

Professor Mandeep Sagoo


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Jaheed Khan

Mr Jaheed Khan


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Eric Ezra

Mr Eric Ezra


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Professor Michel Michaelides

Professor Michel Michaelides


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Praveen Patel

Mr Praveen Patel


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Miss Louisa Wickham

Miss Louisa Wickham


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Luke Nicholson

Mr Luke Nicholson


Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Miss Angela Rees

Miss Angela Rees


Consultant Ophthalmologist

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