What can be done if I have diabetic retinopathy?

As with most diseases, the best treatment is prevention.  Keep your blood glucose under tight control: monitor your sugar levels regularly, and aim for steady readings in the target range suggested by your family physician.  The A1c laboratory test provides an overall picture of diabetes control, and should be 7% or lower for patients with diabetes.  Control of blood pressure and cholesterol is critical, and in patients with diabetes, ‘borderline’ BP and cholesterol levels may be aggressively treated in an attempt to reduce the rate and risk of complications.

Should retinopathy develop, early detection is critical. Annual eye exams with pupil dilation, which may be accompanied by retinal photography or other imaging, are essential. If retinopathy that requires treatment is detected, your optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist for laser or medical therapy to treat leaking blood vessels before permanent damage to the retina occurs.