Diabetic Eye Care

Diabetic Retinopathy treatment and eye care from one of Pittsburgh's most trusted eye care and eye surgery centers.


Diabetes is a disease that affects all areas of your body. The vitreoretina doctors at Associates in Ophthalmology urge all diabetic patients to pay careful attention to their eyes, as they are likely to experience what is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetics are also twice as likely to experience problems like cataracts or glaucoma.

Diabetic retinopathy is a disease of the small blood vessels that nourish the retina. It is especially prevalent in Type I or insulin-dependent diabetics. Diabetic retinopathy treatment in many ways depending on the stage of the disease and the specific problem that requires attention. In some cases, blood vessels weaken and can begin to leak fluid, fat or protein deposits and blood, reducing the nourishment to the retina. These leaking vessels can cause cloudy vision that cannot be improved by corrective lenses. In other cases, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These new vessels can suddenly and randomly rupture and hemorrhage. In early stages of this disease, there is little or no loss of vision; therefore a person may not know there is a problem.

As the cells begin to repair, they may cause scar tissue to develop. As the scar tissue heals, it may contract and pull on the retina, leading to a retinal detachment. At worst, diabetic retinopathy may result in permanent and severe vision loss, but rarely does it lead to complete blindness.

To check for diabetic retinopathy, our doctors who specialize in these conditions may perform a diabetic eye test whereby a dye is injected intravenously into the blood vessels. This procedure is known as a fluorescein angiogram. Photographs are taken of the retina while the dye is passing through the eye's blood vessels. This helps show where weak, broken or abnormal blood vessels are.

Diabetic retinopathy treatment includes careful monitoring and, if the condition becomes more serious, a laser may be used to treat weak, broken or abnormal blood vessels. All treatments are done in order to keep the condition from getting worse and often cannot restore previously lost vision. Diabetic eye treatment surgery may be necessary in certain situations.

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

Your retina helps you see fine detail clearly. With DME, the retina becomes swollen, which causes vision to become blurry and washed out. In people with diabetes, this can happen when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina. 

Retina with DME: In an eye with DME, fluid from damaged blood vessels collects in an area of the retina called the macula, causing swelling. With a swollen retina, it can be hard to see fine details. You May Have DME and Not Know It. In its early stages, DME often doesn't show any warning signs. But detecting DME early is the best way to prevent vision loss. If left untreated, your DME could get worse. And it could cause changes to your vision, possibly leading to vision loss. That's why it's so important to get a retina eye exam. 

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you are at risk fur diabetic macular edema (DME). The best way to prevent DME is to keep your blood sugar levels under control by eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and taking your medicines as directed by your doctor. 

It's also important to get a retina eye exam every year. Even if you don't have any symptoms of vision loss, you may be at risk for developing DME. 

Factors that may put you at higher risk for DME are: length of time you've had diabetes, poor control of blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. 

Because DME often doesn’t show warning signs in its early stages, it is critical for people with diabetes to get a retina .eye exam each year. It lets your eye doctor see if there is damage in the back of your eyes. If there is damage, your eye doctor can recommend treatments that may help.