What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Well Heeled

…and how can it affect peoples lives?

Good health is one of the most unappreciated gifts that you can have. In fact, we all tend to take good health for granted until it is gone. Instead, we should try our best to live healthy lives to avoid health complications down the line. Diabetes is one of the most diagnosed diseases today, with people from all over the world needing to adjust their lives to get a better chance at a normal life. Although most people know that diabetes affects your blood glucose levels, very few people know that it brings several other health complications, including sometimes problems with the eyes.  Well Heeled has a closer look at this question .

So what is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication that results from diabetes. It affects the eyes as blood vessels in the eyes are damaged. Although there might not be any symptoms in the initial stages, people with diabetic retinopathy might notice problems with the vision eventually. Unfortunately, there isn’t a known cure for diabetic retinopathy. However, some treatments and procedures can help with the condition. Diabetic retinopathy is most common among people who are 50 years and older. Depending on the severity of the condition, it can last for years or be a lifelong complication in extreme cases. People with diabetes are more likely to get diabetic retinopathy if there is a history of the condition in the family.

If you have diabetes and you are experiencing vision problems, you must seek medical attention urgently.

What are the treatments for diabetic retinopathy?

If medical professionals feel that the condition is mild, they might not advise treatment immediately. Instead, the condition will be carefully monitored, and they will encourage careful management of diabetes. In advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy, medical professionals might recommend treatment that might include medical or surgical treatment.

The medication that can help ease the symptoms and discomfort of diabetic retinopathy includes:

  • Intravitreal anti-VEGF injections

These injections help prevent the growth of abnormal blood vessels. If diabetic retinopathy affects a person’s central vision, their ophthalmologist will likely recommend this treatment.

  • Glucocorticoids

If the anti-VEGF injections are ineffective, this is a more extreme treatment for reducing swelling and fluid accumulation in the eye. It is either given as an injection or as an implant. The implant offers a release of the drug in a sustained and continuous way that can provide significant relief over a more extended period.

When it comes to surgical treatments, there are two options that an ophthalmologist might recommend in severe cases of diabetic retinopathy, including:

  • Laser treatments

The laser’s heat can shrink any abnormal blood vessels on the eye, which leads to relief and improvement of vision.

  • Vitrectomy

Often with diabetic retinopathy, vitreous jelly will fill the eye. It is a substance that is jelly-like that can seriously affect vision, and in severe cases, can lead to blindness. The procedure known as vitrectomy is the surgical removal of the vitreous jelly.

Are there any methods of self-care that can help with diabetic retinopathy?

The good news is that there are ways that you can practice self-care to help ease the symptoms and discomfort of diabetic retinopathy. The self-care steps you can take include:

  • Modifying your diet

You can help decrease your blood glucose level fluctuations by following a diabetic diet.

  • Exercise

It is recommended for every person to get daily exercise, and people with diabetes should take this seriously. The benefit of exercise includes keeping the blood glucose levels within a normal range. This leads to complications being less likely. By doing a form of exercise that you enjoy, you can make a big difference. For example, even having a brisk walk for half an hour a day can help stabilize your blood glucose levels.

  • Monitoring your blood glucose levels

People with diabetes are advised to monitor their blood glucose levels regularly. This makes it possible to notice fluctuations and leads to better control of glucose levels with the assistance of medication. If a person’s levels remain uncontrolled, their medical practitioner might recommend an increased medication dosage for hypoglycemia.

What should I eat if I have diabetic retinopathy?

Nutrition matters, and for people with diabetes, it can make a huge difference. By eating the right food and avoiding some food, a person can help alleviate the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy while minimizing future complications. The food that people with diabetic retinopathy should eat include:

  • Gluten-free foods

By controlling your gluten, you can make a big difference. Add fish, vegetables, and fruit to your diet. Pulses from the legume family are also recommended to include in the diet.

  • Foods that are low in carbohydrates and sugar

It is a great idea to cut back on foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugar. Therefore, enjoy lean meats, green vegetables, eggs, and fish.

  • Foods that are high in vitamins

A good diet includes a lot of vitamins since they improve a person’s immunity. Try your best to buy your fruit and vegetables fresh from organic sources.

Some foods are best to avoid if you are experiencing diabetic retinopathy. These foods offer very little nutritional value while having a detrimental effect on blood glucose levels. The foods that you should be avoided if you are showing symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Foods that are high in fat

This includes butter, lard, shortening, and margarine. Also, avoid dairy products that have been reduced, like cheese or cream.

  • Foods that are high in refined sugars

Everyone should avoid foods that are high in refined sugars, but it is essential for anyone with diabetes. If you are experiencing a sugar craving, it is best to snack on fruit rather than a high sugar snack.


Our vision is essential for a happy life, and therefore, it is best to live a healthy lifestyle that benefits your whole body, including your eyes. If you have diabetes and you experience any issues with your vision, it is recommended that you consult your ophthalmologist as soon as possible. In addition, try your best to follow a balanced diet and exercise daily. All of these factors keep us healthy and happy.

About Me

Founder of Well Heeled - I have a great interest in diabetes and the effect on those diagnosed as well as those around them. With over 20 years in health and social care, as a qualified social worker and as a passionate educator within the health and social care sector, I wanted to bring further information to others around diabetes and other issues.

Leave a comment