Diagnosis and Care for Diabetic Retinopathy

If you have diabetes, you are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. This eye disease occurs when your blood sugar levels spike and damage the blood vessels located in the retina. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness. If you have diabetes, you need to be screened for diabetic retinopathy. Then, if you are diagnosed with it, you should begin treatment immediately to preserve your vision.



Diagnosing Diabetic Retinopathy

Your optometrist can check for diabetic retinopathy during a comprehensive eye exam. First, the optometrist will dilate your eyes and examine them to look for signs of the disease. Next, the optometrist might conduct a fluorescein angiography by injecting a yellow dye into a vein in your arm. The dye will move through your blood vessels, finally making it to the vessels in your eye. The optometrist will use a special camera to photograph the retina to see if the dye travels through the blood vessels as it should. Your optimist can identify blocked or leaking blood vessels that indicate diabetic retinopathy during this test.

Finally, your optometrist can perform an optical coherence tomography test, where a machine scans your retina and creates cross-sectional images. The images detail the retina’s thickness, so your optimist can determine if the fluid has leaked into the tissue, indicating diabetic retinopathy. 

If you do have diabetic retinopathy, the results from these tests will help your optometrist monitor your response to treatment. It’s critical to have a baseline going into treatment, so your optometrist will know if the disease is progressing. 



Treating Diabetic Retinopathy

Your optimist has several treatment options to use for diabetic retinopathy. First, your optometrist will talk to you about your blood sugar. Controlling your blood sugar is a critical step in managing diabetic retinopathy. In some cases, regulating your blood sugar can even reverse some of the symptoms.

Next, your optometrist might inject an anti-VEGF medication, such as Lucentis or Avastin, into your eye. The medication reduces the swelling in the macula caused by diabetic retinopathy. This slows the progression of the disease and can restore the vision in some cases.

Laser surgery could be the next step of your treatment plan. Lasers can reduce swelling, seal leaking blood vessels, and prevent additional blood vessels from forming. It can also shrink abnormal blood vessels that have grown in the eye to lessen the severity of the symptoms. 

If you have advanced diabetic retinopathy, you might require a vitrectomy. The surgeon will remove the blood and vitreous gel that has leaked out of blood vessels. Your surgeon also might need to remove scar tissue to restore your vision. After the surgery, you should notice an improvement in your vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is a serious complication of diabetes. If you’re diabetic, regular comprehensive eye exams are necessary. If you have this disease, your optometrist can catch it in the early stages and begin treatment. Call Okaloosa Eye Care at (850) 608-0003 to schedule a comprehensive eye exam to check for diabetic retinopat