Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment
Research shows that diabetics have a heightened risk of developing various eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy. This eye disease, which occurs as a result of uncontrolled diabetes, can cause blurred or double vision, and if left untreated, permanent vision loss.
By properly managing their diabetes and regularly visiting their eye doctor for eye exams, patients can lower their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Patients who have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy have several options for managing the condition. The board certified ophthalmologists at Visual Health are trained and skilled experts in diagnosing and managing diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with us for regular eye care.
What Causes Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels in the retina are weakened and damaged. Initially, high blood sugar levels as a result of diabetes cause blood vessels to leak. This in turn causes swelling in the retina and vision loss. As the disease progresses, retinal vessels close, prompting new, abnormal blood vessels to grow. This can ultimately lead to severe vision loss with bleeding, scar tissue growth and retinal detachment.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Dark areas of vision
- Floaters (visual disturbances that look like spots or specks)
- Pain or pressure in the eye
- Partial or total loss of vision
Early stages of diabetic retinopathy typically do not produce symptoms. As the disease progresses, visual symptoms start to appear and worsen. If it advances to retinal tear or detachment, symptoms can be severe.
Diagnosing Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed via a comprehensive eye exam with a board certified ophthalmologist. During the eye exam, visual acuity is tested and the eyes will be dilated so the doctor can look into the eye’s internal structures. The doctor will look for the following changes:
- New blood vessels
- Abnormal blood vessels
- Swelling, blood or fatty deposits in the retina
- Scar tissue
- Signs of retinal detachment
- Irregularities in the optic nerve
Once diabetic retinopathy diagnosis is confirmed, the doctor will make his or her recommendations on a proper treatment plan.
Treatment Options for Diabetic Retinopathy
If your diabetic retinopathy is in its early stages, immediate treatment may not be necessary. You may be monitored closely until the doctor determines intervention is needed.
The goal of treatment is to halt the growth of the abnormal blood vessels. This can be accomplished through laser treatment. Depending on the specific retinal problem, laser treatment may stop or slow the blood vessels from leaking in the eye or it may shrink the abnormal blood vessels. Visual Health also offers intravitreal injections, which involve injecting medicine into the vitreous. The injections are painless and a local anesthesia will be used to minimize discomfort. Our team can determine which treatment option is best for you following an initial consultation.
If you have diabetes and have not been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, regular eye exams and care are still crucial due to your heightened risk of eye disease. We encourage you to schedule regular eye exams with us so we can help monitor your eye health. If diabetic retinopathy is detected, we can treat the condition in its early stages.
To learn more diabetic retinopathy, please call Visual Health at 1-800-771-3937.