Treating Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition mostly caused by diabetes. This occurs when unregulated blood sugar levels carry on for a long duration of time. This causes the blood vessels in our eyes to become blocked. The walls of vessels weaken and can leak into your eye. With progression of the condition new blood vessels grow but are also weak and can leak as well. Scar tissue from the development of the new vessels grows and can detach the retina from the back of the eye. Pressure within the eye increases and can cause glaucoma and blindness. 

Prevention of this complication involves:

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  • Managing diabetes – this includes making healthy eating choices and incorporating exercise into your daily routine. It can also involve taking diabetes medication and seeking other treatment to manage diabetes. 
  • Monitoring blood sugar levels – checking your blood sugar levels throughout the day, especially if you are ill or under stress. 
  • Keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control – similar to diabetes management, eating healthy, regular exercise and seeking professional treatment such as medication. 
  • Not smoking – smoking increases the chances of eye conditions and it is highly recommended to discontinue use if you have diabetes or believe you may be susceptible. 
  • Paying attention to your vision – being able to notice changes and getting regular eye checks is important so that you are able to catch condition early on and prevent further damage. 
Acupuncture for diabetic retinopathy


Most common method of diagnosis for diabetic retinopathy is done through a dilated eye exam. This is when a professional uses eye drops that cause the pupil to open wide. When the pupil is dilated it allows the examiner to get a good look inside the eye. To diagnose the condition the key things that they will be looking for are:

  • Abnormal blood vessels 
  • Swelling
  • Leaking blood vessels
  • Blocked blood vessels 
  • Scarring
  • Changes in the eye lense
  • Damage to nerve tissues
  • Retinal detachment

A fluorescein angiography test can also be done to identify issues within the eye. Your doctor will inject a dye into your arm, which allows them to track how the blood flows in your eye(s). Pictures are taken so the doctor can determine if there is any blockage or leakage of your vessels.

An OCT exam is an imaging test that uses light waves to produce two-dimensional images of your retina. These images help your doctor determine the thickness of your retina and whether you have any fluid accumulation in it. 


Treatment options for early diabetic retinopathy are limited. Your doctor may encourage you to schedule regular eye exams in case treatments become necessary. An endocrinologist can help you manage your diabetes in the most optimal way to slow the progression of retinopathy. They can help you control your blood glucose levels and achieve hemoglobin A1C levels (a long-term measure of blood sugar) of no higher than 7 percent. Additionally, endocrinologists can monitor any existing conditions you might have, like high cholesterol, hypertension (unhealthy blood pressure), and/or high triglycerides (blood fats).

In the case of advanced diabetic retinopathy, treatment depends on the conditions of your case.

Photocoagulation surgery can help prevent vision loss. In this type of surgery, a laser is used to burn and seal leaking vessels to stop vision loss from occurring in the affected eye. Surgery types include:

  • Scatter photocoagulation – a medical procedure performed on a patient’s eyes using a highly focused beam of light from a laser to burn tiny holes in the lens of the eyeball. This reduces the risk of blindness of about 80%.
  • Focal photocoagulation – surgery to the macula that is used to repair leaks that have formed on the surface of the prime spot of central vision.
  • Vitrectomy – removing scar tissue and cloudy effects from the eyes vitreous fluid. 
Acupuncture is an effective treatment for many ailments.

Chinese Medicine is another effective approach to treating diabetic retinopathy and has been utilized in doing so for many years. Acupuncture for diabetic retinopathy addresses the fundamental underlying conditions that give rise to abnormal blood vessels. This is achieved by manipulating the acupoints on specific acupuncture points located throughout the body, with a special emphasis around the hands and feet. Our doctor will be sure to include certain acupoints on your face as well since they relate to eye functions. In particular, the specific points around the eyes are particularly important for managing diabetes-related issues because they directly affect circulation in your eyes. In addition, they lead to improved circulation in general around your entire body, which helps prevent further complications from occurring later down the line.

This improvement of circulation eaves by acupuncture assist with:

  • Delivering necessary nutrients to the eyes 
  • Mitigation of bleeding
  • Proper distribution of oxygenated blood
  • Reduced inflammation and build up of fluid
  • Encourage regeneration of damaged cells

If you or a loved one is struggling with conditions such as diabetes, diabetic retinopathy or other eye related issues, contact us a Centre of Balance on 07 846 7956 or email

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