Diabetic Retinopathy

What is diabetic retinopathy?

People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at risk for developing a condition called diabetic retinopathy, which may occur as a result of damage to the blood vessels of the retina (nerve at the back of the eye) due to consistently high blood sugar. The condition usually affects both eyes.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy

Due to the degenerative (worsening) nature of diabetic retinopathy, you may not experience any symptoms at first. Once the blood vessels have been considerably damaged, however, you may notice things like:

  • Blurred vision
  • Cloudy vision
  • Floaters ("spots" or "strings" floating into view)

The weakening of blood vessels in the retina may also cause leakage of blood and other fluids into the eyes and can also cause scar tissue to form. Scar tissue can put strain on the retina and cause retinal detachment. Having another condition such as high blood pressure can make diabetic retinopathy even worse, by putting strain on already strained blood vessels. Other eye conditions that can develop include macular edema (swelling of the macula), which affects the middle part of the retina where your eye sees details.

Diagnosis and testing for diabetic retinopathy

With regular eye exams your eye care provider can detect any changes in the health of your eye and effectively treat problems if they arise. If you are diabetic, it is especially important to see your eye doctor regularly while also maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.


Treatment for diabetic retinopathy may include injection drugs, corticosteroid injections or implants, and laser surgery.

Laser Surgery

Laser surgery is sometimes used to remove diseased tissue within the body, to seal nerve endings after surgery, and to remove skin cancer and skin abnormalities.



Main Line Health offers ophthalmology services for patients throughout the Philadelphia region who have eye conditions.

Endocrinology and Metabolism

When hormones are out of balance, you can experience a wide range of problems. Main Line Health endocrinologists can help assess your needs and provide care for any endocrinology and metabolism conditions.