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Diabetic retinopathy and oedema treatment

We take a look at the condition, its symptoms and the treatments that are available.

Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetic eye disease that involves damage to the retina – the light-sensitive part at the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy usually only affects those people who have had diabetes for several years.  

As diabetes becomes worse, high blood sugar levels can damage the tiny blood vessels in the retina, which can break, bleed, and leak fluid. All forms of diabetic eye disease can potentially cause severe vision loss.  

Diabetic macular oedema (also known as diabetic oedema) is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetic retinopathy in the UK. Diabetic oedema involves a swelling of fluid in an area of the retina called the macula, which controls central vision. Around half of all people with diabetic retinopathy will develop diabetic oedema.  

Diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular oedema typically have no early warning signs until they start affecting vision. As diabetic retinopathy progresses, common symptoms may include:

  • Seeing small spots ‘floating’ in your vision (floaters);
  • Blurred or distorted central vision;
  • Impaired colour vision and
  • Dark or empty areas in your vision.

Since diabetic retinopathy and diabetic oedema often lack early symptoms, anyone diagnosed with diabetes should get a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. The early detection, prompt treatment, and appropriate follow-up care of these two diabetic conditions can protect and reduce vision loss.  

We offer some of the latest procedures for treating diabetic retinopathy and diabetic oedema, using state of the art technology. These procedures, listed below, can be used alone, or in combination with each other.

If you have diabetes, we can arrange an appointment for you to visit a leading consultant ophthalmologist who specialises in diabetic eye diseases. They can closely assess your condition and advise you about the procedures that would be appropriate for you.

Laser treatment

Lasers can be used to treat new blood vessels at the back of the eye caused by diabetic retinopathy. These weak, abnormal blood vessels might be causing blood to seep into the eye.

You will be given a local anaesthetic and your surgeon will focus a laser onto your retina to carry out the treatment. It should help to stabilise your condition and prevent your sight from getting worse.

Eye injections

Injections of medicines that stop blood vessels forming, known as anti-VEGF drugs, can be used to treat diabetic macular oedema. Steroid injections might also be used instead of anti-VEGF injections, or if they do not help.

Your eye will be numbed and you will lie back on a couch, then a very thin needle will be used to administer the medicine. Your ophthalmologist will let you know how often you will need to attend appointments for your injections.

Eye surgery

Surgery is most likely to be recommended if a large amount of blood has collected in your eye, or if there is a lot of scar tissue that is likely to cause or has already caused your retina to detach.

Your surgeon will make a small slit in your eye and remove some of the excess transparent, jelly-like substance along with scar tissue.

Our 500 trusted eyecare experts offer personalised care at over 40 BMI Healthcare centres across the UK.   

Our experts in affordable eye care offer fast access to treatment in a safe and comfortable environment.   

Your diabetic retinopathy treatment will provide the best possible outcome, along with excellent value for money, to help improve your quality of life.   

What you pay will depend on the exact treatment you need. Your final price will be confirmed in writing following your consultation.

Specialists Offering Diabetic retinopathy and oedema treatment

Dr Manish Gupta

Consultant Ophthalmologist

MBBS, BSc, DNB (Ophth), MRCS (Edinburgh), MRCOphth (London)

BMI Ross Hall Hospital

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Mr David Bessant

Consultant Ophthalmologist

MBChB, BSc (Hons), FRCOphth, MD

BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital

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Prof Stephen A Vernon

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

MB ChB, FRCS, FRCOphth, DM, FCOptom (hon), DO, FISGS

BMI The Park Hospital

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Mr Laurence Whitefield

Consultant Ophthalmologist

MBBS Lond, FRCOphth

BMI The Blackheath Hospital

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Mr Kirti Jasani

Consultant Ophthalmologist, Cataract and Vitreoretinal Surgeon

MBChB, FRCOphth, FEBO

BMI The Highfield Hospital

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