Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people under age 65. Diabetes can cause severe damage to blood vessels throughout the body. When the blood vessels in the retina become damaged, they may leak fluid, bleed, or lead to the growth of scar tissue. In some patients, the leaking fluid will spread to the macula (the area of the retina for central vision), causing swelling and blurred vision. This condition is called macular edema. All of these changes can cause blurring, distortion, loss of detail vision, floaters, and blindness.

Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment Options

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  • Why Eye Exams are Important for Diabetics

    Eye exams for diabetics provide crucial information for your primary care doctor or endocrinologist about the state of your diabetes. The eye is the only place where we can see the circulatory system without cutting into skin and thus the only window to obtain a glimpse of how diabetes is affecting your entire body.

    Standard of care is yearly eye exams for diabetics without complications and every six months for patients with signs of retinopathy. Early diagnosis and treatment of diabetic retinopathy greatly reduces the risk of vision loss.

  • Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

    Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy and macular edema. Most people experience one or more of the following symptoms:

    • The appearance of spots or floaters in their field of vision
    • Sudden vision loss
    • Blurry vision or fluctuating vision
    • A black or dark area at the center of their field of vision
    • Double vision
  • How is Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosed?

    A comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist or retina specialist is the only reliable means of detecting diabetic retinopathy. After the pupil is dilated, a device called an ophthalmoscope is used to view the retina and determine the extent of the retinopathy.

    If diabetic retinopathy is discovered, a fluorescein dye test and/or optical coherence tomogram (OCT) may be recommended. A fluorescein angiogram involves the injection of a dye into a vein in the arm followed by several minutes of intermittent photos with a special digital camera focused on the retina. An OCT is a non-invasive photo that creates a detailed cross-sectional image of the macula.

  • Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment Options

    Treatment for early stages of diabetic retinopathy and other forms of diabetic eye disease usually focuses on maintaining blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol at the healthiest levels possible in order to prevent permanent eye damage. More advanced stages of retinopathy or macular edema require laser treatments or injections. Both work by reducing blood vessel leakage and inhibiting new blood vessel growth.

    See your ICON Eyecare doctor regularly to keep your eyes healthy and to discuss the best treatment options for you.

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