Diabetic retinopathy

Alternative Names

Retinopathy – diabetic; Photocoagulation – retina

Definition of Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the eye’s retina that occurs with long-term diabetes.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to blood vessels of the retina. The retina is the layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye. It changes light and images that enter the eye into nerve signals that are sent to the brain.


Most often, diabetic retinopathy has no symptoms until the damage to your eyes is severe.

Signs and tests

In nearly all cases, the health care provider can diagnose diabetic retinopathy by dilating the pupils with eye drops and then carefully examining the retina. A retinal photography or fluorescein angiography test may also be used.


The following are very important for preventing diabetic retinopathy:

Expectations (prognosis)

You can improve your outcome by keeping good control of your blood sugar and blood pressure.


Daniel E. Bustos, MD, MS, Private Practice specializing in Comprehensive Ophthalmology in Eugene, OR. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 4/27/2010

Slit-lamp exam
Diabetic retinopathy

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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