Who treats diabetic retinopathy?

Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy – A Brief Overview

Sugar or glucose, as we commonly know it, is one of the primary sources of energy for our body. However, when we eat food, our digestive system breaks down the carbohydrates, and it gets converted into glucose. This glucose enters the bloodstream, and with the help of the hormone insulin, it reaches the cells in our body. But, when the body cannot produce enough insulin or when it cannot use insulin correctly, the glucose level in the blood rises, leading to a condition known as diabetes. Over time, diabetes can affect the blood vessels in our body, and since the retina has a network of blood vessels, diabetes can lead to a diabetic retinopathy.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition where the high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the retina, leading to vision problems. The retina is the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye, which helps you see images clearly. If diabetic retinopathy is left untreated, it can lead to severe vision loss and even blindness. Hence, it is essential to get regular eye exams if you have diabetes.

Who Treats Diabetic Retinopathy?

There are several healthcare professionals who can treat diabetic retinopathy. Here are a few of them:

  • Ophthalmologists: An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the eyes, including diabetic retinopathy. They can perform a dilated eye exam, which allows them to examine the retina and see any signs of damage. Depending on the severity of the condition, they may prescribe medication, such as anti-VEGF injections, or recommend laser surgery.
  • Optometrists: An optometrist is a healthcare professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of eye problems. While optometrists cannot perform surgery, they can prescribe corrective lenses, such as glasses or contacts, which can improve vision. They can also detect early signs of diabetic retinopathy and refer the patient to an ophthalmologist.
  • Retina Specialists: A retina specialist is a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of diseases affecting the retina. They work closely with ophthalmologists to develop treatment plans for patients with diabetic retinopathy.
  • Endocrinologists: An endocrinologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hormone-related disorders, including diabetes. They can assist in managing blood glucose levels, which can help prevent or slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Treatment Options for Diabetic Retinopathy

The treatment options for diabetic retinopathy depend on the severity of the condition. Here are a few of the commonly used treatments:

  • Laser Surgery: Laser surgery is a procedure that uses a laser to seal or shrink blood vessels in the retina that are leaking or damaging the eyes. This can help prevent further damage to the eyes and improve vision. Laser surgery is often used in patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
  • Injections: Injections of medications like anti-VEGF drugs can help reduce swelling and prevent abnormal blood vessels from growing in the retina. Anti-VEGF medications can target the blood vessels responsible for leaking and causing vision loss.
  • Vitrectomy: In advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, vitrectomy may be recommended. During this surgery, the vitreous gel inside the eye is removed and replaced with a saline solution. This can help remove blood and scar tissue from the retina and improve vision.

Preventing Diabetic Retinopathy

While diabetic retinopathy cannot be completely prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing the condition:

  • Manage Your Blood Sugar Levels: Keeping your blood sugar levels under control is one of the most important ways to reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of diabetic retinopathy and other vision problems.
  • Get Regular Eye Exams: Early detection of diabetic retinopathy can help prevent vision loss.
  • Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent or manage diabetes and diabetic retinopathy.


Although diabetic retinopathy can be a severe condition, early detection and treatment can significantly reduce the risk of vision loss. If you have diabetes, make sure to get regular eye exams and follow the treatment plan recommended by your healthcare professional. By managing your blood sugar levels and making lifestyle changes, you can reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Can diabetic retinopathy be cured?

    There is currently no cure for diabetic retinopathy. However, treatments such as laser surgery, injections, and vitrectomy can help prevent further damage and improve vision.

  • Can diabetic retinopathy lead to blindness?

    Yes, if left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to severe vision loss and even blindness.

  • How long does it take for diabetic retinopathy to develop?

    The development of diabetic retinopathy can vary from person to person. In some cases, it may take several years, while in others, it may develop quickly.

  • Can diabetic retinopathy be prevented?

    While you cannot completely prevent diabetic retinopathy, you can reduce your risk by managing your blood sugar levels, quitting smoking, getting regular eye exams, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


  • American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021). Diabetic Retinopathy. Retrieved from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/diabetic-retinopathy
  • Mayo Clinic. (2021). Diabetic Retinopathy. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-retinopathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20371611
  • National Eye Institute. (2019). Diabetic Eye Disease. Retrieved from https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/diabetic-eye-disease