Diabetic Eye Disease

Both Dr. Stoken and Dr. Wagner are very knowledgeable about the special eye care people with diabetes need. Combined, they have treated hundreds of diabetic patients, providing comprehensive care to help prevent adverse conditions.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy is a term used to describe the damage that occurs to the blood vessels in the retina. It is the leading cause of blindness in American adults and the most common diabetic eye disease today. If untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness or damage vision. Those with diabetes cannot regulate blood sugar levels properly and are apt to have high blood-sugar levels. These high levels can cause damage to the blood vessels throughout the body, but blood vessels in the nerve layer at the back of the eye (the retina), are especially vulnerable. Damage caused by diabetes to the retinal vessels is referred to as diabetic retinopathy and is responsible for 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness each year. Those afflicted with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are at risk for Diabetic Retinopathy. Between 40 and 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of Diabetic Retinopathy.

Types of Diabetic Retinopathy

There are two types of Diabetic Retinopathy: Non-proliferative and Proliferative.


Non-proliferative is an early stage of diabetic retinopathy commonly known as background retinopathy, where tiny blood vessels in the retina leak blood or fluid. When vision is affected, it is the result of macular edema and/or macular ischemia.

  • Diabetic Macular Edema – when leaking causes a swelling or thickening of the macula, a small area in the center of the retina.
  • Diabetic Macular Ischemia – Occurs when small blood vessels (capillaries) close.


Proliferative is more severe than non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy because it affects both central and peripheral vision. When diabetic retinopathy progresses, the retinal blood vessels continue to weaken and close. As they close, oxygen can no longer be carried to the retinal tissue and the retina responds by growing abnormal blood vessels – this process is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

Diagnosis and Diabetic Eye Exams

A comprehensive medical eye examination, including a Visual Acuity Test, Dilated Eye Exam, and Tonometry Test, is necessary in order to detect changes inside your eye. Our doctors can often diagnose and treat serious retinopathy before you become aware of any vision problems.Patients with diabetes must be attentive to their eye care throughout their lives. The American Diabetic Association (ADA) recommends yearly eye examinations for all diabetic patients.


  • Laser Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy – laser treatments are available for proliferative retinopathy and macular edema.
  • Vitrectomy for Diabetic Retinopathy – Instead of laser surgery, this procedure, which involves removing the cloudy vitreous and replacing it with a special salt solution, is performed.