Diabetic Eye Care

What You Should Know

If you have diabetes mellitus. your body does not use and store sugar properly. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels in the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and helps to send images to the brain. The damage to retinal vessels is referred to as diabetic retinopathy.


Types of diabetic retinopathy

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy: nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). NPDR, commonly known as background retinopathy, is an early stage of diabetic retinopathy. In this stage, tiny blood vessels within the retina leak blood or fluid. The leaking fluid causes the retina to swell or to form deposits called exudates.

Many people with diabetes have mild NPDR, which usually does not affect their vision. When vision is affected it is the result of macular edema {pronounced eh•DEEM-uh), macular ischemia {pronounced ih-SKEE-mee-uh), or both.

Macular edema is swelling or thickening of the macula. a small area in the center of the retina that allows us to see fine details clearly. The swelling is caused by fluid leaking from retinal blood vessels. It is the most common cause of visual loss in diabetes. Vision loss may be mild to severe. but even in the worst cases, peripheral vision continues to function.


Macular ischemia occurs when small blood vessels (capillaries) close. Vision blurs because the macula no longer receives sufficient blood supply to work properly.

What You Can Do

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss and impairment, and results when the blood vessels connected to the retina become damaged due to high blood sugar. If left untreated, the region of the retina known as the macula begins to swell, increasing the risk of blindness. DME is usually a side effect of late stage diabetic retinopathy, but it can also occur at earlier stages as well. The best way to protect your vision and health is to control your blood sugar and preventive care to catch any health issues or complications before they can progress.

For more information about diabetic eye disease and other vision and ophthalmology problems, contact your ophthalmologist by calling (727) 446-7578 to schedule an appointment with Clearwater Eye and Laser Center in Clearwater, FL today.

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