Here at Fusion Eye Care, we see patients with diabetic retinopathy on a regular basis. If you think you might be developing diabetic retinopathy, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Bassiri as soon as possible by calling (919) 977-7480.
What Is Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that people with diabetes often have. This disease occurs when rather high blood sugar levels start to damage the blood vessels in the area of the eye known as the retina, which causes the blood vessels to leak and swell. The blood vessels may also close and stop any blood from passing through. There are also times when new blood vessels begin growing on the retina, and all of these changes combined can cause a loss of vision.
The States Of Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetic eye disease consists of 2 main stages that you need to know about. The first is NPDR or non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This is the earliest stage of the disease, and many people who have diabetes will have it. During this stage of the disease, the blood vessels in the retina can become closed off.
When this happens, it is known as macular ischemia. When this happens, the blood will be unable to reach the macula. During this stage, tiny particles called exudates will sometimes form in the retina, and this will also affect our vision. If you have NPDR, your vision will become blurry.
The advanced stage of this eye disease are often referred to as PDR or proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This stage starts just as the retina begins growing new blood vessels, and this is known as neovascularization. As these new vessels are fragile, they will often, but not always, bleed into the area known as the vitreous. If the vessels only bleed a little, you might notice dark floaters in your vision. However, if they do happen to bleed a lot, large areas of your vision may be blocked.
These new blood vessels can form scar tissue. This scar tissue can cause additional problems to the macula and could lead to a detached retina. PDR is a very serious issue, and it is possible that it can steal all of your central and peripheral vision.
Diagnosing Diabetic Retinopathy
To diagnose this disease drops will be put into your eyes to dilate the pupil. This allows the ophthalmologist to look into the eye using a special lens.
To see what is happening to your retina, your eye doctor may complete a fluorescein angiography. To complete this, a yellow dye will be injected into a vein, usually in the arm. The dye will then travel through the blood vessels. A special camera is used to take pictures of your retina to see how the dye has traveled through the blood vessels. This is a good test to see if there are any blocked vessels or vessels that are leaking as well as abnormal blood vessel growths.
Another way to take a closer look at the retina is through the use of optical coherence tomography. This machine will scan the retina and provide a detailed image of the thickness. This information will help your doctor find and measure the swelling of the macula, just like it does for strabismus.
Treatment Of Diabetic Retinopathy
Just like with the treatment for dry eyes, the treatment that is recommended for your condition will vary depending on what your optometrist sees in your eyes. Potential treatments include:
Controlling your blood pressure and blood sugar can help stop your loss of vision. To do this, you will need to follow the diet that your nutritionist has recommended. Taking your medication for your diabetes as prescribed will also help with this. There are times when good sugar control can help to bring your vision back and controlling your blood pressure can keep your blood vessels healthy.
Anti-VEGF medication is a type of medicine that helps to reduce the swelling of the macula. This will slow your loss of vision and can help improve loss of vision. The medicine is given through injections in the eye. Another option to reduce macular swelling is steroid medicine. This medication will also be injected into the eye, and your doctor will be able to advise on how many injections you will need.
If you have leaking blood vessels, laser surgery can be used to seal them off. This can also help to reduce the swelling of the retina. Laser surgery has also been known to shrink blood vessels and prevent them from growing again, but more than one treatment will be needed.
If you are suffering from advanced PDR, your doctor may recommend vitrectomy which is a surgical procedure. This surgery will remove the vitreous gel and blood from leading vessels in the back of the eye. This will allow light to focus properly and scar tissue may also be removed from the retina.
Preventing Vision Loss
If you have diabetes, you need to talk to your doctor about controlling your blood sugar. High blood sugar will damage the blood vessels, and this will cause vision loss. You should also see your doctor regularly for dilated eye exams.
If you have any additional questions about diabetic retinopathy, Fusion Eye Care is here to help. Please schedule an appointment with Dr. Bassiri as soon as possible by calling (919) 977-7480.