Retina and diabetic eye disease are part of a group of disorders that affect the thin lining of the eye, called the retina. They can be divided into "medical" and "surgical" disorders or conditions.

The retina comprises light-sensitive cells, also known as rods and cones, as well as nerve cells that organise visual data. The retina delivers this data to the brain by means of the optic nerve. A retinal tear, macular hole and diabetic retinopathy fall under an umbrella term of retinal disease that affects vision.


  • Floaters
  • Blurry vision
  • Problems with side vision
  • Poor eyesight


Diabetic retinopathy prevents the retina from functioning properly and, if left untreated, can cause permanent blindness. Unmanaged diabetes affects many parts of the body, particularly the eyes. Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disorder that targets blood vessels inside the retina, causing fluid to leak inside and beneath that part of the eye. The formation of new, unhealthy blood vessels can rupture and leak blood, which greatly impacts vision.

The retina is susceptible to tears and a macular hole. A tear occurs when clear vitreous fluid pulls onto the retina with enough force to cause a rupture in the tissue. Flashes and floaters accompany a tear.

A macular hole is an abnormality in the middle of the retina at the backend of the eye (macula), the part responsible for primary vision. The vitreous, a clear jelly, decreases in size and tugs at the retina. Typically the vitreous pulls away, but it can attach to the retina, causing the macula to stretch and tear.


Medical retinal conditions, such as diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), require sophisticated diagnostic equipment and up to date treatment. Treatment options include intravitreal anti-VEGF injections, dexamethasone implants and laser treatment. Most of these can be managed in the consulting rooms.

Surgical retinal conditions usually require an operation to treat them. At Paarl Eye Centre, an experienced retinal surgeon or retinal specialist will administer treatment. Examples of these include retinal detachments and macular holes. These procedures are performed under anaesthesia as a day procedure.