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Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic eye diseases are a group of eye conditions that can affect people with diabetes, including cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

What Is Diabetic Eye Disease?

Diabetic Eye Disease is not a single disease but a group of eye conditions that can affect people with diabetes. It includes diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Over time, diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in the retina, leading to vision problems. Treatments for diabetic eye conditions vary depending on the stage and severity, but early detection is critical. Regular eye exams can help your doctor catch conditions early, and early management can help prevent or slow down their progression.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition when prolonged high levels of blood sugar damage the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye. Over time, these damaged blood vessels can swell or leak, leading to vision problems and potential blindness if left untreated.

The two types of diabetic retinopathy are non-proliferative (NPDR) and proliferative (PDR).

Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR)

The early stage of diabetic retinopathy is NPDR, in which small blood vessels in the retina weaken and may leak fluid or blood. This blood loss can lead to the formation of deposits in the retina, which can impact vision.

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR)

PDR is the more advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy when new blood vessels start growing on the retina’s surface. These fragile new vessels can cause severe bleeding, leading to vision loss.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetic Eye Disease?

Diabetic eye disease can have no symptoms in its early stages, so you may have it without knowing it. When it progresses, you may notice symptoms such as:  
  • Floaters
  • Blurred Vision
  • Night Vision Difficulties
  • Color Perception Changes
  • Vision Loss
what is diabetic eye disease

How Is Diabetic Eye Disease Treated?

Early detection is vital for effective management of diabetic disease. Regular eye examinations, including comprehensive dilated eye exams and specialized imaging tests, are essential for timely diagnosis. Treatment options vary depending on the type or severity of the condition and may include medications, laser therapy, or surgery. Managing your blood sugar and blood pressure can slow or halt the disease’s progress and restore some vision.


One widely used treatment for diabetic eye disease is photocoagulation. This procedure involves the use of a laser to seal or “weld” abnormal, leaking blood vessels in the retina. Photocoagulation helps reduce swelling and prevent further vision loss. While we do not perform this procedure at Chicago Eye Surgeons, we are available to make referrals for photocoagulation and other diabetic eye diseases.

What You Should Know

Early Detection Is Key

Individuals with diabetes must have regular eye exams to detect diabetic eye disease early when intervention is most effective. Getting treatment as soon as possible is the best way to prevent vision loss.

Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Control

Maintaining optimal blood pressure and cholesterol levels is crucial for preventing and managing diabetic eye disease. Lifestyle changes and prescribed medications may help regulate these levels.

Managing Your Blood Sugar

Tight control of blood sugar levels is essential in preventing and managing diabetic retinopathy. Talk to your healthcare team about maintaining a comprehensive diabetes management plan.

Other Diabetic Eye Conditions

Diabetes can increase the risk or accelerate symptoms of other eye conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts. Learn more about these diabetic eye conditions:

what is diabetic eye disease

Don’t Wait

Understanding and actively managing diabetic eye disease are essential components of overall diabetes care. Contact us to learn how your specialized care team at Chicago Eye Surgeons can work with you to create a comprehensive plan tailored to your needs. Make an appointment here or call 773-775-9755.