Diabetic Eye Disease

The Woodlands Retina Center

Wael Abdelghani, MD, FACS

Retina and Vitreous Specialist located in The Woodlands, TX

Diabetic eye disease silently and progressively damages your retina without causing symptoms until the damage is severe enough to affect your vision. Dr. Wael Abdelghani at The Woodlands Retina Center encourages everyone with diabetes to get yearly eye exams to detect and treat signs of diabetic eye disease as early as possible. To schedule an appointment, use the online booking tool or call the office in The Woodlands, Texas.

Diabetic Eye Disease Q & A

What is diabetic eye disease?

Diabetic eye disease includes diabetic retinopathy, as well as glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes doubles your risk of developing glaucoma, and you’re also 2-5 times more likely to have cataracts.

A cataract occurs when the eye’s lens becomes cloudy, causing blurry vision. Glaucoma refers to several eye conditions that gradually damage your optic nerve, which leads to vision loss.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy occurs over time as diabetes damages small blood vessels in your retina. This condition has two stages:

Nonproliferative stage

In the early stage, small areas of balloon-like swelling develop in retinal blood vessels. Over time, they begin to leak into the retina, causing swelling in the macula, which is an area in the center of your retina.

This condition, called diabetic macular edema, is a common cause of vision loss in patients with diabetic retinopathy.

Proliferative stage

As diabetic retinopathy progresses, your retina grows new blood vessels. These abnormal vessels are fragile and prone to leaking blood. When that happens, severe vision loss and blindness can develop.

What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy seldom causes symptoms until it affects your vision. You can develop proliferative retinopathy and macular edema and still not have symptoms -- even though you’re at a high risk for vision loss.

The lack of symptoms is why it’s so important to have a dilated eye exam every year. During your exam, Dr. Abdelghani can see the retinal changes long before you begin to notice symptoms, which gives you the opportunity to prevent the condition from worsening.

If you begin to have symptoms, bleeding from abnormal blood vessels may cause floating spots. You may also develop blurry vision, but, ultimately, you’ll have blind spots in your field of vision

How is diabetic retinopathy treated?

Your treatment depends on the stage of retinopathy and your overall health. It’s essential to keep your blood sugar well-controlled. When your blood sugar stays in a normal range, you can prevent diabetic retinopathy and delay its progression.

Depending on the stage of your retinopathy, Dr. Abdelghani may use one of the following treatments:

  • Laser photocoagulation: The laser shrinks abnormal blood vessels.
  • Vitrectomy: The gel inside your eye is removed to treat severe bleeding.
  • Intravitreal injections: Various medications that can stop abnormal blood vessel growth or reduce swelling are injected into the eye.

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of new blindness in adults, so please protect your vision and call Dr. Abdelghani, or use the online booking tool, to schedule a comprehensive examination.