Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes, which results in damage to the retina, a light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eye that converts light into electrical signals, which the brain converts into the images we see. The retina needs a constant supply of blood, which it receives through a network of tiny blood vessels. Over time, a persistently high blood sugar level can damage these blood vessels. Read more HERE.

Who is at risk of diabetic retinopathy?

Anyone with diabetes is potentially at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. You are at a greater risk if you:

  • have had diabetes for a long time
  • have a persistently high blood glucose level
  • have high blood pressure
  • have high cholesterol
  • are pregnant
  • are of Asian or Afro-Caribbean background

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy

Whilst you may not notice diabetic retinopathy in the early stages, early signs can be picked up during diabetic eye screening. It is therefore important that you contact your GP or diabetes care team immediately if you experience:

  • gradually worsening vision
  • sudden vision loss
  • shapes floating in your field of vision (floaters) 
  • blurred or patchy vision
  • eye pain or redness
  • difficulty seeing in the dark

Treatments for diabetic retinopathy

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy is only necessary if the screening detects significant problems that indicate your vision is at risk. The main treatments for more advanced diabetic retinopathy are:

  • laser treatment
  • injections of medication into your eyes
  • an operation to remove blood or scar tissue from your eyes

 Reducing your risk of diabetic retinopathy

You can reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, or help prevent it getting worse, by:

  • controlling your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • taking your diabetes medicine as prescribed
  • attending all your screening appointments
  • getting medical advice as soon as you notice any changes to your vision
  • maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly and stopping smoking

Diabetic eye screening

Diabetic eye screening is a test to detect eye problems caused by diabetes and involves examining the back of the eyes and taking photographs. If problems are caught early, treatment can help prevent or reduce vision loss. Everyone with diabetes who is 12 years old or over is invited for annual eye screening.

Depending on your result, you may be advised to return for another appointment a year later, attend more regular appointments, or discuss treatment options with a specialist.

Diabetic Retinopathy Screening in Gibraltar
Please contact your GP or health care provider for any concerns and referral to the eye department at St Bernard’s Hospital.