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A Healthy Vision

The Florida Retina Institute specializes in treating diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness that often goes undiagnosed.

When undiagnosed or left untreated, diabetes is a disease known to cause many serious health complications. One of those complications is diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in adults ages 20 to 74.

Retinopathy happens when high blood sugar levels cause damage to a person’s eyes. Unfortunately, the damage often goes unnoticed until the disease has become a serious threat.

“When blood sugars are high, it can cause inflammation and weakening of the blood vessels causing them to leak, which damages the retina,” explains Dr. Jaya B. Kumar, a retina specialist at the Florida Retina Institute who has advanced training in vitreoretinal diseases. “As a result, there’s not enough oxygen and blood flow to parts of the retina, and subsequently abnormal vessels can form. These vessels bleed, form scar tissue, and retinal detachment—all of these changes can lead to vision loss.”

The physicians at the Florida Retina Institute are ophthalmologists who are fellowship trained in vitreoretinal diseases. The institute, which has 19 locations throughout Central Florida, North Florida and Southeast Georgia, places an emphasis on continuing education so doctors are up to date on all the latest medical and surgical advancements for not only diabetic retinopathy but also disorders such as retinal detachment, macular degeneration, retinal vein occlusion and more.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends people with diabetes receive annual eye exams because if caught early, diabetic retinopathy can be treated successfully. Abnormal findings may require more frequent check-ups. While most people do not have any symptoms for diabetic retinopathy, people with diabetes should be on alert for changes in their eyesight such as new or increasing floaters, blurry or fluctuating vision, difficulty seeing at night and decreased clarity of colors.

Dr. Kumar stresses that all diabetics should always attend their annual eye checkups as early detection is key. Although, the best treatment for retinopathy is preventing its onset in the first place.

“Treating diabetic retinopathy is a team approach with the patient, primary care provider, endocrinologist, dietician and eye doctor. The first step is controlling the blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol and adopting a healthy lifestyle including diet, exercise, and smoking cessation,” Dr. Kumar says. “When patients have early stages of diabetic retinopathy, that’s all we need to do.

“For more advanced cases we may use medications injected into the eye to improve vision and prevent vision loss, laser treatment to stop abnormal vessel growth, or surgical intervention to remove scar tissue or repair retinal detachment.”

Dr. Kumar says to maintain good eye health, patients with diabetes should remember their ABCs. A stands for A1C, the marker for blood sugar level, which should be less than seven. B is blood pressure control. C is “cholesterol should be low, and cigarettes are a no.” And S is for “see” your eye doctor routinely for your dilated eye exam.

“Diabetic retinopathy is preventable and early detection and treatment are key to prevent vision loss,” Dr. Kumar says.

Florida Retina Institute
Multiple locations in Central Florida including Orlando, Kissimmee, Lake Mary and Clermont
407-849-9621 |

This article originally appeared in Orlando Family Magazine’s October 2020 issue.