Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes is a disease that profoundly affects many areas of your body, including your eyes. It increases your risk for eye conditions, such as glaucoma and cataracts. The primary concern for eye health in people with diabetes is the development of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that develops when the blood vessels in your retina become damaged. Your eyesight may become blurry, less intense, and begin to disappear. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among people between the ages of 20 and 74 in the United States.

This condition can affect people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The longer you live with diabetes, the more likely you are to develop complications like diabetic retinopathy.

This is why adopting lifestyle changes and learning to manage diabetes is so important.

Learn more about Diabetes.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms. The initial symptoms may be barely noticeable or mild. Over time, the condition can worsen and lead to partial and then complete blindness. Diabetic retinopathy most often affects both eyes at the same time and in equal measure. If you’re experiencing issues with only one eye, it doesn’t mean you don’t have diabetic retinopathy. However, it might indicate another eye issue. You should see a provider at Alpharetta and Cumming Internal Medicine if you experience any of these symptoms:
  • Floaters, or dots and dark strings, in your field of vision
  • Dark or empty areas in your field of vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Vision changes that seem to fluctuate
  • Altered color vision
  • Partial or total vision loss

Testing for Early Detection of Diabetic Retinopathy – RetinaVue™ Network


The new RetinaVue™ 100 Imager for diabetic retinopathy screening is now available at Alpharetta and Cumming Internal Medicine. The Welch Allyn RetinaVue™ Imager is the most advanced, handheld fundus camera that capture high-quality images in minutes. Diagnostic interpretation services are provided via a network of board-certified, fellowship-trained retina specialists. Results are returned to Alpharetta or Cumming Internal Medicine in the same day. By quickly and comfortably screening patients as part of their routine primary care visit, it has been shown that the RetinaVue™ 100 Imager can be used to potentially provide vision saving information. For more details on the RetinaVue™ Network screening click here+.

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Drowsiness and lethargy
  • Sugar in urine
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Increased appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath
  • Heavy, labored breathing
  • Stupor or unconsciousness

Retinopathy Treatment

The best way to handle eye problems related to diabetes is through early detection of retinal abnormalities, regular monitoring, and prompt treatment. Early detection and treatment typically begin with the retinal exam. You may develop retinopathy and find that your symptoms don’t progress or stall entirely. If that happens, the likelihood you’ll be monitoring your eyes for changes for the rest of your life is high. If your provider diagnoses you with retinopathy and treats you for it, they may request exams several times per year. The number of eye exams you need each year will depend largely on the severity of the retinopathy.

Ongoing Vision Care

Treatments for diabetic retinopathy are often very successful, but they’re not a cure. Diabetes is a chronic condition, which means you’ll likely experience complications of the condition for the rest of your life. This includes vision problems. If you develop diabetic retinopathy, you may find relief with treatment, but you’ll need regular eye exams to monitor for worsening issues. You may eventually need more treatment for retinopathy.

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