Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is one of the leading causes of blindness in people ages 20-64. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of Diabetes and a leading cause of blindness in the United States.  Since many people are unaware and/or have not been diagnosed with Diabetes, many are unaware that they are at risk for damage to their vision.

Diabetic retinopathy affects nearly 200,000 individuals per year in the United States. 80% of Diabetics who have been diagnosed for 20 years or longer have some form of Diabetic retinopathy.  Like many eye conditions, when symptoms are first seen, the disease has progressed for some time.

Symptoms often include blurry vision, difficulty seeing colors, floaters, poor night vision and even abrupt blindness. Risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy, beyond having diabetes include; hypertension, elevated cholesterol, pregnancy, and smoking. 

Complications of diabetic retinopathy include glaucoma, detached retina, central serous retinopathy, and vitreous hemorrhage.  

4 Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

There are four stages of Diabetic Retinopathy which include;

  1. Mild Non-proliferative Retinopathy – seen as small micro-aneurysms on fundus photography. In this stage, small blood vessels on the retina become swollen.
  2. Moderate Non-proliferative Retinopathy – Here cells of the retinal pigment endothelium, that nourish the retina, become blocked. This starves the retina leading to the progression of symptoms.
  3. Severe Non-proliferative Retinopathy – At this point, larger areas of retinal pigment endothelium are blocked which prompts the eye to produce excess signaling proteins called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF prompts the choroid to produce new blood vessels in an attempt to meet the nourishment needs of the retina.
  4. Proliferative Retinopathy – This severe stage involves the active leaking of fragile retinal arteries in response to VEGF.  This can lead to severe vision loss in areas damaged by bleeding.  

How To Reverse Diabetic Retinopathy

A diagnostic eye exam is very helpful to determine the stage of diabetic retinopathy and whether complications such as edema called central serous retinopathy (CSR) are present.

It starts with a dilated eye exam using fundus photography after dilating pupils. 

This often includes fluorescein angiography, which involves injecting a dye into a patient’s arm, to visualize retinal vasculature in the back of the eye.

This test can help determine if any vessels are leaking fluid. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) can also help determine if swelling is present.

OCT takes a cross-sectional view of the retina including the macula. Approximately 10% of DR patients will have macular edema.  

Diabetic Retinopathy & Micro-Acupuncture

Diabetic retinopathy responds consistently well to micro-acupuncture. This is because this condition, more than other degenerative eye conditions, is linked directly to poor blood flow in the retinal pigment endothelium (RPE). 

The retinal pigment endothelium is the tissue that nourishes the photoreceptors of the retina.

Micro-acupuncture improves blood flow to the RPE, dormant and damaged retinal cells are often restored to normal function.

This restores vision acuity and diminishes vascular leakage and edema. 

If you or a loved one suffers from diabetic retinopathy please call our office to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.