Diabetic Retinopathy

At Vision Specialists, we know that you want to be healthy and proactive with your diabetes management. In order to do that, you need to control your blood sugar levels to ensure adequate health and clear vision. The problem is, you may be at risk, or have developed diabetic retinopathy, which makes you feel afraid you might lose your eyesight. We believe you deserve vision for life and shouldn’t feel lost in taking control of your health. We understand your fear which is why we screen for diabetic retinopathy at every routine vision exam and can catch it very early on with today’s latest technology.

Here’s how we do it:

1. Obtain a high definition retinal image

2. Discover the signs and stage of your diabetic retinopathy.

3. Understand the next steps you need to take to retain your sight for the future.

So, schedule an appointment today. So you can decrease your chances at losing your eyesight and be proactive with your diabetes management.

Diabetes can be difficult.

Preserving your vision shouldn’t be.

Diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes increased blood sugar. If uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to complications throughout the entire body, and the eyes are no exception. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common ocular complication, but simply having diabetes can increase your risk for developing cataracts and glaucoma as well.

Diabetic retinopathy affects millions of Americans in increasing numbers each year. It is a potentially blinding condition in which the blood vessels inside the retina are damaged. The retina is the delicate tissue inside the eye that detects light, which requires substantial blood flow in order to function properly. When the blood vessels are damaged, fluid can leak out into the retina or be blocked completely, both of which obstruct flow. Sometimes new, fragile vessels may grow and cause further complications. In any case, diabetic retinopathy may cause severe, and in some cases, permanent vision loss.

Come and check us out. So you can understand your chance of developing diabetic retinopathy and be proactive with your diabetes management.

Stages of Retinopathy

At Vision Specialists, we know that you want clear vision for life, but managing your diabetes can make it hard. We believe you should understand your risk and stage of diabetic retinopathy to preserve one of your most valuable senses. 

There are two main stages of diabetic retinopathy: non-proliferative and proliferative disease. Basically, absence or presence of proliferation means that either there is no new blood vessel growth, or that there is, respectively. 

There are three types of non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, or NPDR: mild, moderate, and severe. In the mild stage, there are dilated areas or leakage of small blood vessels, which can be seen by your eye doctor as small blood spots or hemorrhages within the retina. Often these are very tiny and do not affect vision at all. 

In moderate NPDR, blood vessels can become more swollen and the resulting leakage makes the retina swell. If this swelling occurs in the macula, it is called diabetic macular edema, or DME. About 50% of people who have diabetic retinopathy will have DME at some point in time. Since the macula is the sensitive detail-detecting portion of the retina responsible for sharp central vision, DME causes noticeable changes in vision which can often be permanent. This is the most common cause of vision loss in those with diabetes.

If NPDR progresses to the severe stage, a significant amount of blood vessels in the retina are blocked, which severely reduces the amount of blood flow that the retina needs to survive. This lack of blood flow, or ischemia, starves the retina and eventually signals may be sent out telling the body to grow new blood vessels.

New blood vessel growth is called neovascularization, the distinguishing characteristic of proliferative diabetic retinopathy, or PDR. PDR is the most advanced stage of diabetic eye disease; although growing new blood vessels sounds like a great protective mechanism, they are extremely fragile and do not function like normal blood vessels. They often break and bleed into the vitreous, the jelly-like material that fills up the central portion of the eyeball. This can cause anything from a small increase in floaters to blocking large portions of the visual field. The neovascularization process also causes the new vessels to be “sticky,” which allows them to grasp onto and pull surrounding tissue. Pulling on a tissue as delicate as the retina can result in scar tissue and retinal detachments, further affecting vision.

Here’s how we do it:

1. Obtain a high definition retinal image

2. Discover the signs and stage of your diabetic retinopathy.

3. Understand the next steps you need to take to retain your sight for the future.

Contact us today to set up your exam. So you can decrease your chances of permanent sight loss and instead have vision for your future.

You may have it and not even know.

You deserve to have vision for life, and we can help. Take control of your diabetic retinopathy by visiting us to better understand what you can do to achieve the vision you ought to have. 

Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes, but in early stages, if the changes are small or not affecting the macula area of the retina, they may go unnoticed. Since the retina only detects light and not pain, retinopathy can occur without any symptoms. If diabetic eye disease progresses, the following symptoms may be present:

  • Blurred vision that may fluctuate in severity depending on the day or time of day
  • Missing, dark or distorted areas in your visual field
  • Increased floaters or “cobwebs” in vision
  • Poor night vision

The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy increases the longer a person has diabetes, which is why good control of blood sugar is essential. Hypertension and high cholesterol also increase risk, so emphasis on overall systemic health is important. 

Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, or who are diabetic and become pregnant are additionally at high risk and should have thorough eye exams as directed by their doctors.

Visit Vision Specialists to obtain your high definition retinal image. Then, discover your risk or stage of diabetic retinopathy and understand the next steps you need to take to manage your health so you can fully experience the best of what’s to come.

Treatment is simple – if caught early.

At Vision Specialists, we know you want to take control of your health and overall wellbeing. In order to do that, you need the clear vision you deserve. Our high-definition retinal imaging system with the doctor’s thorough evaluation can determine your stage of diabetic retinopathy and appropriate management plan.

The good news is that treatment is very simple for mild signs of diabetic retinopathy; in short, keeping blood sugar at a controlled and stable level. In many cases, the body can reabsorb leakage of fluid and blood and “heal” itself as long as blood sugar levels are returned to a stable, healthy rate. Your doctor will monitor closely for improvement or progression.

In more advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, especially when vision is affected, treatment with intraocular injections or laser procedures may be indicated. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is the signal released that tells the body to grow more blood vessels. Injections of anti-VEGF medications suppress those signals and help absorb fluid or blood that cause retinal swelling and diabetic macular edema, which can sometimes improve vision. 

Laser treatments cannot reverse damage already done, but aim to halt progression. Pan-retinal photocoagulation (PRP) is the process of applying multiple laser “burns” across the entire peripheral retina, preserving the macular area, to shrink blood vessels in order to control bleeding and prevent further neovascularization. While it is most often very effective, PRP damages healthy portions of retina in the process, which in turn causes some irreversible damage.

For neovascularization or new blood vessels that have grown into the jelly-like vitreous and are causing traction, or significant bleeding or floaters, a procedure called vitrectomy may be recommended. A vitrectomy involves removing all the gel-like substance from the inside of the eye and replacing it with artificial fluid. This is a rather invasive procedure and your doctor will decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks. 

In all cases, the best treatment is to adequately control blood sugar so that advanced surgical options are not necessary.

You shouldn’t have to worry about losing your eyesight. Schedule an appointment today to understand your diabetic retinopathy and what you can do to overcome it.

 

What Can I Do?

Since all people with any type of diabetes are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy, it’s important to have a comprehensive eye examination at least once every year. Eating healthy, exercising, and following your primary care physician or endocrinologist’s instructions can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of diabetic retinopathy.

We understand your fear of losing your vision and succumbing to diabetes which is why we screen for diabetic retinopathy at every routine vision exam and can catch it very early on with today’s latest technology.

Here’s how we do it:

1. Obtain a high definition retinal image

2. Discover the signs and stage of your diabetic retinopathy.

3. Understand the next steps you need to take to retain your sight for the future.

Schedule an appointment today. So you can decrease your chances at losing your eyesight and be proactive with your diabetes management.

Dr. Robyn Epley

Dr. Robyn Epley chosen from the top candidates from across the nation. Our doctor network has direct access to the most advanced eye care professional education system in the United States.