Damage to the retina due to diabetes is called Diabetic Retinopathy. Diabetes is a disease that affects the blood vessels all over the body, including the blood vessels behind the eye.
How is diabetic retinopathy detected?
Diabetic retinopathy is detected during a comprehensive dilated eye exam. A comprehensive dilated eye exam allows the doctor to check the retina for:
- Changes to blood vessels
- Leaking blood vessels or warning signs of leaky blood vessels, such as fatty deposits
- Swelling of the macula (DME)
- Changes in the lens
- Damage to nerve tissue
If severe diabetic retinopathy is suspected, a fluorescein angiogram may be used to look for damaged or leaky blood vessels. In this test, a fluorescent dye is injected into the bloodstream, often into an arm vein. Pictures of the retinal blood vessels are taken as the dye reaches the eye.
How can people with diabetes protect their vision?
Vision lost to diabetic retinopathy is sometimes irreversible. However, early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of blindness by 95 percent. Because diabetic retinopathy often lacks early symptoms, people with diabetes should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. People with diabetic retinopathy may need eye exams more frequently. Women with diabetes who become pregnant should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam as soon as possible. Additional exams during pregnancy may be needed.
At Plessen Ophthalmology we use the newest technologies to prevent and in many cases reverse this potentially devastating disease. From intravitreal injections of modern therapies such as Avastin, Eylea and Ozurdex to treatment with the newest, Multipulse, nontraumatic retinal laser, we can manage this condition locally.