Because those with diabetes are more prone to certain eye conditions, it is important to see your eye doctor yearly for a thorough eye exam. If you are experiencing abnormal changes in your vision or sudden eye blurriness, be sure to contact us right away, as this may be a sign of diabetic retinopathy. Our team of skilled eye professionals can help to properly diagnose and treat you to slow or stop the progression of this condition.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes. It is caused by blood vessel damage of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This condition may cause no symptoms at first and only mild vision issues, however, it can eventually lead to blindness. It can develop in those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and the longer you have diabetes and the loss controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy.
Common symptoms include:
- Blurry vision.
- Floaters in your vision.
- Impaired color vision.
- Dark or empty spaces in your vision.
- Vision loss.
Over time, an excess of sugar in your blood can lead to a blockage of the small blood vessels that nourish the retina, cutting off its supply of blood. The eye will then try to grow new blood vessels, but these vessels do not develop properly and can easily leak. Overall, there are two different forms of diabetic retinopathy, including early diabetic retinopathy and advanced diabetic retinopathy.
This condition is usually diagnosed with a comprehensive dilated eye exam. There are a number of treatment options available, depending on the severity of your diabetic retinopathy. The main goal of treatment is to slow the progression of the condition.
For those will mild or moderate diabetic retinopathy, treatment may not be required right away. However, your eyes will need to be closely monitored by your eye doctor to determine when treatment is needed. Also, working with your endocrinologist to improve your management of diabetes can help to slow the progression of this condition.
Patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy or macular edema will need surgical treatment. Your options may include:
- Photocoagulation: This treatment, also called focal laser treatment, stops or slows the leakage of fluid and blood in the eye. During this procedure, laser burns are used to treat leaks caused by abnormal blood vessels.
- Vitrectomy: A small incision is created in the eye to remove blood from the middle of the eye, as well as scar tissue that may be pulling at the retina.
- Panretinal Photocoagulation: Also called scatter laser treatment, this technique shrinks the abnormal blood vessels. The areas of the retina that are away from the macula are treated with scattered laser burns, which cause abnormal blood vessels to shrink and scar.
- Injection of medication into the eye: In some cases, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors may be injected into the eye to stop the growth of new blood vessels. This treatment may be done alone or in combination with panretinal photocoagulation.
If you have diabetes, it is very important to see your eye doctor annually for an eye exam with dilation. Be sure to contact us right away if your vision suddenly changes or if it becomes spotty, blurry, or hazy. Your first step toward treatment is to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled eye doctors.
For more information regarding diabetic retinopathy and possible treatment options, contact Eye Care Physicians of New Jersey today! We will be happy to assist you in scheduling your initial appointment.