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Diabetic Retinopathy

The retina providers at Minnesota Retina Associates are experts in diabetic retinopathy. As true partners in your retina care, our expert retina doctors will work with you to develop a treatment plan aimed at slowing or stopping the progression of the disease. Treatment depends largely on the type of diabetic retinopathy you have – and its severity. Our team can help monitor diabetic retinopathy in its earliest stages or provide medical retina care including intravitreal injections and laser treatments. Call us today to learn more.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy affects the blood vessels in the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of irreversible blindness in working-age Americans. It develops in more than half of the people who develop diabetes. Elevated sugar levels from diabetes can damage the small blood vessels that nourish the retina and may, in some cases, block them completely. 

In the early stages, you can manage vision loss from diabetic retinopathy with proper medical management. However, it can lead to severe vision loss and blindness if diabetes is not under control.

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What are the Types of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Non-proliferative retinopathy
(NPDR)

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Non-proliferative retinopathy (NPDR) is the early stage of the disease. Small areas of swelling occur, and the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) can begin to leak. Eventually, the blood vessels to the macula can close off.

Proliferative retinopathy
(PDR)

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Proliferative retinopathy (PDR) is an advanced stage of retinopathy. Growth factors generate new blood vessels that grow along the retina’s surface and into the vitreous gel (the fluid that fills the back of the eye). The fragile blood vessels often bleed and leak.

Diabetic Macular Edema
(DME)

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Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) often occurs with diabetic retinopathy. Fluid (called edema) builds up in the macula, the central part of the retina. Macular edema can damage the central vision if not treated promptly.

Chart Illustrating a Healthy Eye vs One With Diabetic Retinopathy

What are the symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?

  • Blurry vision, or vision that changes from blurry to clear
  • An increasing number of floaters
  • Blank or dark areas in the field of vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Colors appear dim or faded

How is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?

Regular dilated eye exams reduce the risk of developing more severe complications from the disease. With proper examinations, diabetic retinopathy can be detected before vision loss begins. There are many available treatments to help prevent, treat or sometimes even reverse damage from diabetes in the retina. Treatments most commonly performed at Minnesota Retina Associates include intravitreal injections of medication or laser treatment.

Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy at a glance:

  • Reasonable control of blood sugar and blood pressure can stave off the progression of diabetic retinopathy.
  • Adherence to a diabetic diet and compliance with taking diabetic medications as prescribed is essential to controlling blood sugar.
  • Intra-vitreal (Anti-VEGF) injections can control swelling of the macula.
  • Laser treatments may be used to help seal off leaking blood vessels and stop swelling of the retina.
  • In advanced cases of PDR, vitrectomy surgery may be recommended to remove blood and scar tissue from the back of the eye.

FAQ: Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetics should have dilated eye exams at least once per year. Diabetic retinopathy does not always have symptoms in the earliest stages, so regular eye exams are important for lifelong eye health. If our specialists find that you have retinal damage or any other complications, we may recommend you get screened more often. The retina specialists at Minnesota Retina Associates will find a screening schedule tailored to your unique situation and needs.

Diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness. To preserve vision, patients should be diligent in the management of their diabetes (type 1 or type 2) and should commit to regular eye exams and monitoring.

An eye doctor can diagnose diabetic retinopathy during your annual dilated eye exam. At Minnesota Retina Associates we offer state-of-the-art retinal imaging to obtain detailed views of your retina and monitor changes over time. Some modalities used at our offices in Bloomington, Golden Valley and Hutchinson include: optical coherence tomography/angiography (OCT/OCTA), fundus autofluorescence (FAF), and fluorescein angiography (FA).

locations

Serving Our Community

Serving patients in Bloomington and Golden Valley areas.

Golden Valley

Minnesota Retina Associates
8501 Golden Valley Rd., Suite 200
Golden Valley, MN 55427

Bloomington

Minnesota Retina Associates
9801 Dupont Ave S., Suite 110
Bloomington, MN 55431

Hutchinson

Minnesota Retina Associates
(At Regional Eye Center)
1455 Montreal St SE
Hutchinson, MN 55350

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