Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetes complication that affects the eyes. It's caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina). Diabetic retinopathy Symptoms may not be present initially, or they might only cause mild vision problems. However, if left untreated, it can lead to blindness. 

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The condition can develop in anyone who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The longer you have diabetes and the less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to develop this eye complication. Effective treatment of diabetic retinopathy involves managing diabetes, regular eye exams, and interventions such as laser treatment, anti-VEGF injections, and vitrectomy, depending on the severity of the condition.


What is Diabetes-Related Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy diagnosis and treatment involve addressing the effects of diabetes on the eyes. This condition is marked by the weakening of blood vessels in the retina, posing significant risks to vision. It manifests in two primary forms:


  • Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR): During its initial stages, individuals may encounter the presence of leaky blood vessels within the retina. This leakage can lead to the buildup of fluid, hemorrhages, or lipids in the retinal region. As the disease continues to progress, these blood vessels might eventually close, resulting in retinal ischemia or a reduction in blood flow to the affected area.

  • Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR): As the disease advances, it prompts the development of abnormal blood vessels in response to the ischemic state. These irregular vessels are susceptible to leaking blood into the vitreous, the gel-like substance that fills the eye. Consequently, the surface of the retina can experience tractional alterations, potentially leading to the detachment of the retina and causing severe impairment of vision in the later stages.


Treatment of Diabetic retinopathy for the above conditions may involve thorough evaluations to determine the extent of the condition's impact on the eyes.


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Understanding the Retina and Diabetic Retinopathy: Symptoms and Treatment

The retina, a specialized tissue positioned at the posterior of the eye, serves as a conduit for transmitting signals to the brain, much like the film in a camera. By converting incoming light rays into intricate electrical impulses, the retina establishes a vital line of communication with the brain. It's through these electrical signals that the phenomenon of vision is made possible.


Diabetes-related Retinopathy's Impact: The effects of diabetes-related retinopathy on the body can be significant. In the absence of proper treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy, this condition can potentially culminate in the loss of vision, diminished visual acuity, or even complete blindness. The underlying mechanism stems from the impairment inflicted upon the blood vessels located within the retina. This damage disrupts the effective transmission of visual data, thereby jeopardizing the integrity of vision over time.


Broad Spectrum Susceptibility: The scope of those susceptible to diabetic retinopathy symptoms is extensive. This encompasses a diverse group of individuals who contend with diabetes, spanning:


  • Gestational diabetes

  • Type 1 diabetes

  • Type 2 diabetes This eye-related concern does not discriminate among diabetes subtypes, underscoring the importance of vigilance and proactive management across the board.


Risk Factors Amplifying Susceptibility: 

For individuals diagnosed with diabetes, several pivotal risk factors can exacerbate the likelihood of developing diabetes-related retinopathy. These include:


  • Pregnancy

  • Hypertension (elevated blood pressure)

  • Inadequate control of blood sugar levels

  • Hyperlipidemia (elevated blood lipid levels)

  • Duration of time living with diabetes-related retinopathy


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What triggers Diabetes-related Retinopathy? 

Diabetes can trigger various ocular conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetes-related retinopathy. The latter term refers to the damage inflicted on the blood vessels within the retina. This damage can lead to compromised blood circulation (ischemia), inflammation, and if left untreated, it can ultimately lead to legal blindness.


What are the Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms?

In the early stages, diabetic retinopathy symptoms may not be discernible. Vision changes might go unnoticed until the condition has advanced significantly. Some individuals may experience symptoms intermittently.

Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision.

  • New onset of color blindness or faded color perception.

  • Impaired night vision (night blindness).

  • Occurrence of small dark spots (eye floaters) or streaks in the visual field.

  • Challenges in reading or seeing distant objects.

  • Crucial Awareness and Timely Treatment: 

Gaining insight into the potential effects of diabetes-related retinopathy is vital for seeking early intervention. Regular eye check-ups, along with an understanding of the diabetic retinopathy symptoms, are of paramount importance. Embracing treatment modalities specific to diabetic retinopathy can significantly mitigate its impact, ensuring both visual health and overall well-being.

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Diagnosis And Tests

Diabetic retinopathy diagnosis: An eye doctor (ophthalmologist) can provide accurate diabetic retinopathy diagnosis during a simple exam.


  • Visual Acuity: This evaluation gauges the clarity of your vision, assessing how well you can see.

  • Intraocular Pressure Check: An assessment of intraocular pressure is conducted to rule out any indicators of glaucoma.

  • Eye Muscle Function: The functionality of your eye muscles is scrutinized, determining the extent of your eye movement.

  • Peripheral Vision Examination: Peripheral vision, which involves sight from the sides of your eyes, is also evaluated.

  • Pupil Response Analysis: This examination delves into how your pupils respond to light stimuli.

In the assessment of diabetic retinopathy diagnosis, the process delves into various facets of your visual health. Following these initial assessments, your eye doctor administers drops into your eyes to dilate your pupils. This step widens the pupils' centers, enabling more comprehensive examination.

Specifics Under the Microscope: During this in-depth examination, the physician focuses on:


  • Identifying abnormal blood vessels.

  • Detecting bleeding within the central eye region.

  • Observing the growth of new blood vessels.

  • Noting any instances of retina swelling.

  • Utilizing Fluorescein Angiography to map vascular patterns.


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Fluorescein Angiography: A Detailed Insight: After pupil dilation, a dye is introduced into a vein in your arm. This dye circulates through the blood vessels of your eyes, and images are captured to pinpoint closed, broken, or leaking blood vessels.


Cross-sectional Clarity with Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT): The Diabetic retinopathy diagnosis involving this process extends to Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), offering cross-sectional images of your retina. These images depict the retina's thickness, aiding in gauging potential fluid leakage into retinal tissue. OCT exams serve as valuable tools to monitor treatment progress over time.


The diabetic retinopathy diagnosis process encompasses these comprehensive evaluations, aiming to provide a thorough understanding of your ocular health and guide subsequent treatment decisions.


Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy:

When it comes to managing diabetic retinopathy, the approach to the treatment of diabetic retinopathy is influenced by the specific type and severity of the condition. The main goal is to slow down or halt its progression, safeguarding your eyesight.

Your healthcare provider takes multiple factors into account while devising a plan for the treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy, including:


  • Your age.

  • Medical history.

  • The extent of retinal damage.

  • Visual acuity.

  • HgbA1c levels (a measure of blood sugar control).


In the initial stages of the disease, your healthcare provider may not give any treatment for Diabetic retinopathy. However, might adopt a wait-and-see strategy, particularly if your vision is still good. During this period, you'll have regular eye check-ups, but immediate treatment may not be necessary. Depending on your situation, you might require eye exams every two to four months.

What does early treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy include?

In cases of mild or moderate nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy, immediate treatment for diabetic retinopathy might not be necessary. Nonetheless, your eye specialist will carefully observe your eye health to ascertain the appropriate timing for potential treatment.

Collaborate closely with your diabetes doctor, often referred to as an endocrinologist, to explore avenues for enhancing your treatment of diabetes-retinopathy. Effective blood sugar control can typically decelerate the progression of diabetic retinopathy when it falls under the mild to moderate category.


Advanced treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy

When faced with proliferative diabetic retinopathy or macular edema, swift intervention is paramount. The specific issues affecting your retina will dictate the course of action, and treatment options encompass:


  • Injection of Medications into the Eye: Medications known as vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors are injected into the eye's vitreous. These injections curb the growth of new blood vessels and reduce fluid accumulation. Notable medications for treating diabetic macular edema include faricimab-svoa (Vabysmo), ranibizumab (Lucentis), aflibercept (Eylea), and off-label use of bevacizumab (Avastin).

  • Photocoagulation - Laser Treatment: This approach, also termed focal laser treatment, can halt or slow blood and fluid leakage within the eye. Abnormal blood vessel leaks are treated with laser burns. Photocoagulation is usually done in one session at your doctor's office or eye clinic. While it may not fully restore vision, it often reduces the worsening of macular edema.

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  • Panretinal Photocoagulation - Scatter Laser Treatment: Employed to shrink abnormal blood vessels, this laser treatment involves treating the retina areas away from the macula with scattered laser burns. The burns prompt the abnormal vessels to shrink and scar. This procedure typically occurs over multiple sessions, potentially leading to temporary blurriness and minor vision loss.

  • Vitrectomy: A tiny incision is made in the eye to extract blood and scar tissue from the middle (vitreous) that's pulling on the retina. Performed in a surgery center or hospital under local or general anesthesia, this procedure helps alleviate retinal strain.

It's essential to grasp that while treatment for Diabetic retinopathy can effectively slow or halt diabetic retinopathy's progression, it's not an ultimate cure. Due to diabetes being a chronic condition, the potential for future retinal damage and vision loss remains.

After undergoing treatment for diabetic retinopathy, maintaining regular eye exams becomes a crucial priority. Consistent monitoring and the potential need for additional treatment in the long term are vital to ensure ongoing eye health.

For individuals with diabetes, minimizing the risk of diabetes-related retinopathy involves several steps:


  • Avoiding smoking.

  • Keeping blood sugar levels under control.

  • Engaging in regular exercise.

  • Undergoing yearly eye exams.

  • Maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.

  • Adhering to prescribed medications.

Outlook for People with Diabetes-related Retinopathy: With prompt treatment, it's possible to prevent vision loss and delay the progression of diabetes-related retinopathy. Following treatment for diabetic retinopathy, managing diabetes and maintaining stable blood sugar levels are key factors for a positive outcome.


Uncontrolled diabetes heightens the risk of encountering eye problems akin to diabetes-related retinopathy. Some of these conditions encompass:


  • Glaucoma.

  • Macular edema.

  • Retinal detachment.

When should I seek care for diabetes-related retinopathy?

If you have diabetes, it’s important to have an eye exam at least once per year. Pregnant women who have diabetes should schedule an eye exam during their first trimester.
Between eye appointments, call your healthcare provider if you notice:

  • Black spots in your vision.

  • Blurred vision.

  • Flashes of light.

  • Holes in your vision.

Anyone who has diabetes has a risk of developing diabetes-related retinopathy. This serious eye condition needs immediate treatment. Without intervention, it can lead to vision loss and even blindness. However timely treatment can prevent vision loss and stop disease progression. The best way to avoid the disease is by managing your diabetes and controlling your blood sugar. Schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider if you notice any new vision changes.

In conclusion

Felix Hospital stands as a beacon of hope and advanced medical expertise for those grappling with diabetic retinopathy. With an unwavering commitment to providing unparalleled treatment and care, coupled with a team of renowned specialists and cutting-edge facilities, Felix Hospital has emerged as a leader in combating this sight-threatening condition. By offering a comprehensive approach that encompasses the understanding of diabetic retinopathy symptoms, early detection, and state-of-the-art treatment options, the hospital has successfully transformed the lives of countless individuals. If you or your loved ones are seeking top-tier care and innovative solutions for diabetic retinopathy, Felix Hospital remains the ultimate destination where medical excellence and compassionate patient care converge.

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