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Suite 5A, Level 1, 1-17 Elsie Street

Burwood NSW 2134


(02) 8090 8010


Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of adult blindness in the western world. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina (back of the eye) due to high sugar blood level over a period of time. The blood vessels that feed the retina may not supply the nutrients to the retina which then results in abnormal new blood vessels growing on the retina surface. This may lead to blood vessels leaking fluid which leads to swelling of the retina. These two events cause distortion, bleeding and the retina lifting free from the eye (detachment). For the retina to function it must be nourished, be flat and attached to the back of the eye. There are various grades when examining the eye which help us decide on the appropriate treatment. Initially, the patient may not have symptoms of the disease process occurring in the eye. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely the person is to develop diabetic retinopathy. Swelling and new vessels can be treated with laser to the eye. Additionally, there are medications which when injected into the eye, help control the proliferation. Finally, surgery to the retina is sometimes needed to remove bleeding and /or to reattached the retina which has been dragged forward. The best way to prevent progressive vision loss is to control blood sugars regularly and to have eye screen examinations performed on a yearly basis. The earlier the disease is diagnosed the better the prognosis. Control of other cardiovascular risk factors such as not smoking, lowering cholesterol and controlling blood pressure will help limit the disease.