Eye Disease

Diabetic Retinopathy Clinic

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is an eye disease that impacts the blood vessels attached to the retina of a patient with diabetes mellitus. The retina is a layer in the back of the eye that has cells that sense light and create the visual images we see.

This disease is the number one cause of blindness in individuals between the ages of 20-64 who are living in the United States. Other risk factors for DR include high blood pressure, elevated fat or cholesterol levels, smoking, nerve damage, and pregnancy.

While DR is extremely common, there are ways for patients with diabetes to decrease their risk of retinopathy and to slow the progression of the disease. This is done by monitoring glucose (sugar) intake very carefully.

Together with our preceptor, Dr. Kim, O.D., Shifa Clinic aims to help diagnose Retinopathy in diabetic patients, treat symptoms of the disease, prevent further worsening of the disease, and inform patients on lifestyle changes that can be beneficial in stopping the progression of DR altogether.

Shifa Community Clinic offers

  • Eye checkups on DR clinic days (certain Saturdays in a month; call to schedule an appointment!)
  • Lower cost prescriptions and medications. Available during clinic days.


Is Diabetic Retinopathy common?

Almost 1 in every 3 people with diabetes will have some type of diabetic retinopathy in their lifetime. Not every type of Diabetic Retinopathy will be threatening to vision.

Are there different types of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Yes. Depending on the severity of the illness, there are different stages of this disease which can progress all the way to macular oedema. Macular oedema can lead to blurry or fuzzy vision that is caused by a build-up in fluid in the eye. If left untreated, it can result in blindness.

How often should screening for Diabetic Retinopathy occur?

Most patients get screened once each year; follow-ups may be required.

I do not have any issues with my vision, why do I need screening?

Diabetic Retinopathy almost always has no symptoms until it permanently damages your vision. Detection and treatment before the appearance of symptoms can be beneficial in preventing permanent vision damage.

Could I develop Diabetic Retinopathy even though my diabetes is always well-controlled?

Yes, many patients that have had Type 1 Diabetes for several years have been diagnosed despite maintaining good control of their blood sugar levels. Inflammation and other blood vessel related problems can often be associated with the onset of Diabetic Retinopathy.

Will I be able to carry on my normal day-to-day activities after a Diabetic Retinopathy screening?

Yes! However, if your screening was done using dilating drops, your vision may be blurry and you could be sensitive to light for a few hours. We would recommend having someone to drive you to and from the clinic.

How is Diabetic Retinopathy treated?

Dr. Kim will work with you to make sure your blood glucose levels and blood pressure are under control. If your case is more severe, Dr. Kim might make further recommendations based on need.