Share on

Understanding your eyes – Introduction to Diabetic Retinopathy Part 2

Article by: Ms Cheryl Kee | Optometrist | Alexis @ Paragon

To recap, diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition where high sugar level causes damage to the blood vessels in the retina, causing leakage of blood and fluid which eventually lead to vision loss in severe cases. Find out more here.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Seeing floaters
  • Having patches in the vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night

Vision with Diabetic retinopathy

(Vision of a normal vision (left) compared to vision with diabetic retinopathy (right)

Effects of Diabetic Retinopathy on Vision

When diabetic retinopathy is at its early stage, the individual might only experience fluctuations or blur vision due to changes in the refractive error as a result of inconsistent blood glucose levels. As the condition progresses, he may experience blurry patches obscuring his vision due to blood and fluid accumulation in the eye.

In severe cases, diabetic retinopathy can lead to retinal detachment or glaucoma, which may result in total blindness.

Treatment Options for Diabetic Retinopathy

Good control of the blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels are the most important steps to delay the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy. For patients with more advanced diabetic retinopathy, laser treatment, eye injections or surgery might be needed.  

Blindness as a result of diabetic retinopathy is usually irreversible, and devastating to an individual’s lifestyle. According to statistics from the United States’ National Eye Institute, early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of blindness by 95%. As diabetic retinopathy lacks symptoms in its early stage, it is important to conduct regular eye check-ups for early detection and proper management.

Eye-check up for Diabetic Retinopathy requires the use of a fundus camera. A fundus camera captures coloured images of the back part of the eyes.

The fundus photograph allows the study of the retina. It can be used to detect anomalies associated with diseases that affect our eyes and can help in monitoring the progression of diseases.

In diabetic retinopathy, the fundus camera is crucial in helping to document the characteristics of the disease.


  • Diabetic Retinopathy. (n.d.). Retrieved September 07, 2018, from
  • Diabetic Retinopathy. (2015, May). Retrieved September 09, 2018, from
  • Diabetic Retinopathy. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2018, from
  • Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease. (2015, September 01). Retrieved September 10, 2018, from
  • Diabetic Retinopathy - Symptoms & Treatment | LSC Eye Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2018, from
  • Hood, C. (2017). Diabetes and Your Eyes(pp. 1-3) (Michigan, Kellogg Eye Center, Department of Ophthalmology).
  • Khalik, S. (2015, May 24). Many diabetics in Singapore at risk of going blind: Study. The Straits Times. Retrieved September 10, 2018, from