Treatments for diabetic retinopathy

Treatments for diabetic retinopathy

Treating diabetic retinopathy involves managing the risk factors that can cause or worsen diabetic retinopathy1 including:

Hypertension
(high blood pressure)

High cholesterol
and triglycerides

High blood
sugar levels

Ensure you attend your eye check as required because there may not be any symptoms with early stage diabetic retinopathy.

Take your prescribed medicines as instructed and follow a healthy diet.

Healthy Lifestyle

It may be funny to think of a healthy lifestyle as a treatment, but your doctor knows that adopting a healthy lifestyle including a healthy diet is an important part of managing your blood sugar levels, your body weight, your blood pressure, and overall mental health.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle involves:

Stopping
smoking

Healthy
eating

Exercising
regularly

Regular
monitoring
of your blood sugar,
blood pressure and
cholesterol levels

Medicines

Your doctor understands that there are reasons why people don’t take medicines and understand that some patients can control their weight, blood pressure, lipids and blood sugar with the lifestyle changes above.2 But if you’ve got diabetic retinopathy, they are worried that every day your diabetic retinopathy will get a little bit worse and once you lose your vision, you may never get that back.

They’re worried about you going blind.3 They’re probably also worried about other complications of diabetes,2 so they might prescribe medicines to lower your risks quickly on top of your lifestyle changes. They might prescribe:2

  • Antihypertensive medicines which are designed to lower your blood pressure.
  • Cholesterol and triglyceride lowering medicines.
  • Antidiabetic medicines which are designed to lower your blood sugar levels.
  • Treatments which slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy once you have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy.

Of course, you may not need all these medicines. If your blood pressure is normal, your doctor will be unlikely to prescribe an antihypertensive medicine.

On the other hand, if your blood pressure is very high or really hard to control, your doctor may need to prescribe two antihypertensive medicines to get your blood pressure under control.

Because everyone is different, you need to work this out with your doctor. Your pharmacist can probably help you understand each of the medicines that your doctor prescribes for you.

Once you have worked out which medications you are going to take with your doctor, you are sure to want to learn more. These links are a good place to start:

Surgeries & Procedures

There are a small number of surgeries and invasive procedures that your eye doctor may recommend under special circumstances. These do not cure retinopathy, but may slow and prevent further loss of vision.1

  • Laser surgery can be used to stop bleeding in the eye, seal leaking blood vessels and shrink abnormal blood vessels.
  • When a lot of blood has leaked into the eye and doesn’t clear or the retina becomes detached your eye doctor may remove the fluid in the eye and replace it with a saline solution.