Diabetic Retinopathy (REH-tih-NOP-uh-thee)
Diabetic Retinopathy is the medical term for the most common diabetic eye problem. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. It damages the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive nerve tissue in your eye that sends visual images to your brain.
If we suspect an ocular condition or disease,
we will immediately schedule or perform
diagnostic tests to determined our next steps.
Blurred vision or temporary blindness can occur when blood vessels weaken, bulge and leak fluid into surrounding tissue, causing swelling - a condition called macular edema. Abnormal new blood vessels may often, grow on the retina, where they can bleed into the eye and block vision.
Retinal damage happens slowly.
As the disease progresses, the retina can detach from the eye, resulting in permanent blindness. Irreversible vision loss can be prevented with early detection and treatment. This is just one of the reasons it is so important to have your eyes checked on a regular basis. In addition to testing your vision, we will look for any signs of eye disease.
Your retinas have tiny blood vessels that are easy to damage. Having high blood glucose and high blood pressure for a long time can damage these tiny blood vessels.
First, these tiny blood vessels swell and weaken. Some blood vessels then become clogged and do not let enough blood through. At first, you might not have any loss of sight from these changes. This is why you need to have a comprehensive eye exam once a year even if your sight seems fine.
As diabetic retinal problems get worse, new blood vessels may grow. These new blood vessels are weak. They break easily and leak blood into the vitreous of your eye. The leaking blood keeps light from reaching the retina.
You may see floating spots or almost total darkness. Sometimes the blood will clear out by itself, but you might need surgery to remove it.
Over the years, the swollen and weak blood vessels can form scar tissue and pull the retina away from the back of the eye. If the retina becomes detached, you may see floating spots or flashing lights.
You may feel as if a curtain has been pulled over part of your vision. A detached retina can cause loss of sight or blindness if you don't take care of it right away.
Diabetic Retinopathy is best diagnosed with a comprehensive dilated eye exam. For this exam, drops placed in your eyes widen (dilate) your pupils to allow your doctor to better view inside your eyes. The drops may cause your close vision to blur until they wear off, several hours later.
During the exam, your eye doctor will look for:
• Abnormal blood vessels
• Swelling, blood or fatty deposits in the retina
• Growth of new blood vessels and scar tissue
• Bleeding in the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the center of the eye (vitreous)
• Retinal detachment
• Abnormalities in your optic nerve
In addition, your eye doctor may:
• Test your vision
• Measure your eye pressure to test for glaucoma
• Look for evidence of cataracts
Blindness can occur. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss for people with diabetes. You might not have any signs of diabetic retinopathy until it becomes serious. Early symptoms include floaters, blurriness, dark areas of vision, and difficulty perceiving colors.
Mild cases may be treated with careful diabetes management. Advanced cases may require laser treatment or surgery.
We all want to to protect our eyesight and that is why it is important to have
annual vision tests. This allows us to detect changes in the front of your
eye so that alterations can be made to your eyeglass or contact lens
prescription. We also need to inspect the retina to check if it is healthy,
damaged, or showing signs of disease.