Diabetic Retinopathy or Eye Damage

Background Diabetic Retinopathy

Get regular eye checks if you have diabetes! Photo courtesy of Largo Tellez, Chile Some degree of Background Retinopathy is common in people who have had diabetes for a long time. Most sight loss can be prevented with an early diagnosis/

Annual eye checks are very important for people with diabetes.

Background Retinopathy occurs when leaking blood vessels leave dots, blots and tiny yellow patches of blood protein and cells on the retina. While not sight threatening it needs to be monitored for -


Treatment in the early stages may be simply to photograph the eye to make monitoring changes easier but in the case of proliferative Retinopathy Laser treatment may be needed.

External Links

  1. Colloptics: What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
  2. Understanding diabetes related eye conditions


Leaking blood vessels in the retina cause a gradual loss of central vision (in the Macula). May make small print hard to read and cause difficulties in recognising faces in the distance.


Eccentric reading training for those with major vision loss has recently been introduced in the UK (in Western Scotland).

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

This form of retinopathy occurs when new blood vessels (capillaries) form to replace vessels that have become blocked. The new blood vessels form on the surface of the retina and are weak and often leak. Weakened blood vessels are visible when the eye is examined as they balloon out - they are known as micro-aneurysms.

If they leak this can cause blurring or floating spots, these may disappear without treatment but any scarring caused by the leaking blood vessels can cause a distortion of the retina (Retina detachment). If this is untreated in can lead to sight loss or even blindness. Most sight loss however is preventable with early diagnosis.

Proliferative Retinopathy causes no symptoms until it is very advanced when it may cause sudden loss of vision in one eye if a vitreous haemorrhage (blood vessel bleeding in the eye) develops.


Laser treatment is used for proliferative retinopathy this can be used to prevent blood leaks and the associated scarring.

Minimising the Risks of Retinopathy


Cataracts are problems in the lens of the eye they are more common if you have diabetes but they can usually be removed by surgery.

External Link

  1. RNIB: Understanding Cataracts

Personal Experience

Eye problems prompted my research for this page. Fortunately only minor problems fairly early Maculopathy no laser treatment needed as yet, with only minor loss of vision so far. While I expect it to get worse I will do my best to keep its development as slow as I can.

My problem started shortly after a period of eye strain, I had a migraine (my first) during which I lost central vision for about 10 minutes - unfocused central vision in an oval outlined with jagged edges! Actually quite strange and I had no idea it was migraine as there was little pain in my case.

As my optician was closed I rang the NHS Direct line a 24 hour phone service on 0845 4647. I found them prompt and helpful. After taking details of what happened, someone with more specialist knowledge rang me back promptly.

Diagnosing it was a migraine rather than anything worse came down to the problem occurring in both eyes. Which I confirmed with my optician later indicates migraine rather than other problems.

The migraine in my case appears to have been brought on by the loss of vision in one eye, to me it looks like a small blob of grey just below where I focus in the right eye.

The eye and brain adapt and after a while you do not notice if you use both eyes.

External Link

  1. About NHS Direct

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