What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetes-a disorder involving the way blood sugar is used and stored in the body-increases a person’s risk for many health problems, including a condition known as diabetic retinopathy. This is a progressive disease affecting the delicate light-sensitive tissue along the back of the eye called the retina. The retina is responsible for gathering visual images and sending this information to the brain via the optic nerves. In diabetic retinopathy, small blood vessels in and around the retina become leaky, leading to swelling, cloudiness, and scarring of the retinal tissue. This can lead to significant and worsening vision loss over time, and if left untreated can even cause blindness.
What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy do not always show up until after the disease has already progressed. This is why it’s so critical for people with diabetes to be screened regularly by their eye doctor, to improve the chances of early detection and early intervention. When symptoms do develop, they most commonly include:
- Blurry vision
- Blind spots or “floaters” in the visual field
- Impaired ability to see at night
How Our Optometrists Diagnose Diabetic Retinopathy?
To diagnose diabetic retinopathy, our optometrist will perform a thorough and comprehensive dilated eye examination. Special attention will be paid to the integrity of the retina. Components of a diabetic eye exam may include:
- Patient history interview
- Evaluation of internal eye structures
- Visual acuity tests
- Measurement of inner eye pressure
Eye Care Treatment For People With Diabetes
A person with diabetic retinopathy needs to be carefully and regularly monitored by their eye doctor. This way, an optometrist can determine which treatment options are appropriate given the degree of disease progression and other unique individual factors, including the patient’s age and other health conditions. Treatment for diabetic retinopathy may include:
- New or updated prescription lenses, if refractive errors and visual focusing problems are present
- Patient education regarding lifestyle changes to better manage the underlying diabetes, including nutrition and diet recommendations (alternatively, our eyes doctor may refer you to another healthcare professional)
- Laser therapy (photocoagulation) to burn, shrink, and seal small leaky blood vessels
While diabetic retinopathy can’t be cured, its progression can be slowed or even stopped with early and comprehensive intervention.
Do You Have Diabetes? Come See Our Plano and Celina, Texas Optometrists Today
If you or a loved one is living with diabetes, it’s essential for you to visit with our eye doctors at least annually for an eye health and vision exam. Regular optometry care is the best way to ensure that your eyes are in top condition and that any potential problems are detected early.