What are the signs of retinal hemorrhage in type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) and how can damage be reduced?

Updated: Sep 27, 2021
  • Author: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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Often, the first hemorrhage is small and is noted by the patient as a fleeting, dark area, or "floater," in the field of vision. Because subsequent hemorrhages can be larger and more serious, the patient should be referred immediately to an ophthalmologist for possible laser therapy. Patients with retinal hemorrhage should be advised to limit their activity and keep their head upright (even while sleeping), so that the blood settles to the inferior portion of the retina, thus obscuring less central vision.

Patients with active proliferative diabetic retinopathy are at increased risk of retinal hemorrhage if they receive thrombolytic therapy; therefore, this condition is a relative contraindication to the use of thrombolytic agents.

One study has shown that individuals with gingival hemorrhaging have a high prevalence of retinal hemorrhage. [144] Much of this association is driven by hyperglycemia, making it possible to use gingival tissue to study the natural course of microvascular disease in patients with diabetes.

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