What is diabetic retinopathy?


Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes. In the context of generalized vascular disease, it causes "leakage" of blood components into the surrounding tissues and leads to insufficient oxygen supply of this area.

The most important risk factor is the duration of diabetes. Retinal disease rarely occurs in the first five years after diagnosis.

Because diagnosis is often delayed, a drop in vision can be the initial warning. If the condition is not treated early, it can even lead to blindness. 80% of people with diabetes in a period of 10 to 15 years will develop damage to the vessels in the retina.

The condition can appear in anyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The greater the problem with the diabetes and the patient's blood sugar control, the more likely is that diabetic retinopathy will develop.




In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy there are no symptoms. However, as the condition progresses, the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy will include:


Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes usually with varying severity.




Over time, the presence of excess blood sugar can lead to obstruction of the tiny blood vessels that feed the retina, interrupting the blood supply. The result is that the eye tries to develop new blood vessels (neovascularization).

However, these blood vessels do not have the same sturdy anatomy of the normal blood vessels, making them more likely to bleed.


Diabetic retinopathy is divided into two (major) stages




In addition to retinopathy, diabetic patients may have other eye problems. When the blood sugar level is not kept constant, it causes swelling of several tissues and can change the refractive power of the crystalline lens which leads to cloudy vision.

It is important to know that cataracts occur at a younger age in diabetics.

Gestational diabetes does not pose a risk of retinopathy, but such a pre-existing condition can develop more rapidly during pregnancy.


Risk factors


Anyone with diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy. The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy can be increased by the following:





Diabetic retinopathy is an abnormal development of blood vessels in the retina. Complications of the condition can lead to serious vision problems such as:


In more severe cases, the blood can fill the vitreous cavity and block your vision partially or completely.


Hemorrhage of the vitreous usually does not cause permanent loss of vision. Often, the blood clears on its own within few weeks or months. If the retina is not damaged, vision may return to pre-bleeding levels.







Diabetic retinopathy cannot be prevented in all cases.

However, regular eye examinations, good blood sugar control and blood pressure. Early intervention when the first symptoms occur can help prevent severe vision loss.

If the patient has diabetes, the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy may be reduced by:


Diabetes does not necessarily lead to vision loss. Active effort in the management of diabetes can significantly contribute to the prevention of complications.




Diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed with a comprehensive ophthalmological examination in which the pupils of the eyes (mydriasis) will need to be dilated after the use of special eye drops. This dilation can cause blurred vision for a few hours.

During the examination the ophthalmologist will examine for the following:





Treatment, which largely depends on the type of diabetic retinopathy and the severity of the symptoms, aims to slow or stop the progression of the disease.


However, regular eye examinations are needed so that the ophthalmologist can determine when it may be necessary.

When diabetic retinopathy is mild or moderate, good blood sugar control in collaboration with the patient's endocrinologist may slow the progression.




Argon Laser treatment is usually done in one or two sessions and can be combined with the use of intravitreal injections.

If vision was blurred before, then treatment may not fully restore your vision to normal levels but reduces the chance of worsening the Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO).



The above treatments often slow or stop the development of diabetic retinopathy but diabetes is a chronic disease and future retinal damage as well as vision loss cannot be excluded.

Even after the treatment for diabetic retinopathy, regular eye examinations are necessary as additional treatment may be needed at some point.


Why Emmetropia


At Emmetropia Eye Clinic, we are investing in new technology to ensure that all measurements, examinations, and finally treatments are performed accurately.

Our medical staff will inform you and advise you in detail on the best possible solution. Emmetropia is the only private ophthalmology clinic in Crete with dedicated department for posterior pole diseases like Diabetic retinopathy, macular problems etc.

In our Clinic we have state-of-the-art technology available to diagnose, monitor and treat any type of diabetic retinopathy. All modern methods of treatments such as Intravitreal injections, the top class Argon laser technology by IRIDEX™ as well as surgical equipment for performing vitrectomy with the latest generation of Bausch & Lomb(USA), StellarisPC ™ platform, the Leica M844 F40 high-resolution surgical microscope and HAAG-STREIT's excellent EIBOS-2 Wide angle viewing system guarantees the precision of our retinal procedures.