Diagnosing and Treating Diabetic Retinopathy

Eye diseases and conditions come in many forms. One of them is known as diabetic retinopathy. Common among people who suffer from high or unstable blood sugar levels, it is associated with diabetes. 


In a nutshell, retinopathy incorporates any type of damage that occurs to the retina of your eyes. Needless to say, the retina is the deepest tissue in your eye. If this goes unchecked, it may lead to blindness or vision impairment. 




Signs of Diabetic Retinopathy



Experts have determined that diabetic retinopathy (DR) progresses through various stages associated with certain symptoms. In its early stages, DR is virtually unnoticeable until vision issues become apparent. Some of the typical stages of non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) include:
 

  • Mild NPDR – At this stage, microaneurysms occur. These are small areas of swelling that form in the retinal blood vessels. They may even leak into the retina.
     

  • Moderate NPDR – At this stage, the abovementioned blood vessels may swell, losing their capability to transport blood.
     

  • Severe NPDR – As the condition progresses, the blood supply to the retina is cut off, causing more damage to your eye.
     

  • Diagnosing and Testing Diabetic Retinopathy
     

The first thing your ophthalmologist will do is ask about your vision and medical history. They will also ask you to read an eye chart. Using an ophthalmoscope, your doctor will then examine your retina. 


This is because a regular eye exam is not enough to see some features of diabetic retinopathy. To have a better look, your eye doctor may administer eye drops to dilate your pupils. Using lenses and a light known as a slit lamp, they can better look at your retina. 


To reveal changes in the function and structure of your retinal blood vessels, the doctor may perform a special test known as fluorescein angiography. During this test, a fluorescent yellow dye is injected into a vein. As the dye outlines the blood veins, clearer images of your retina can be seen.


Since people with diabetes have a higher risk of some eye conditions, a test is also performed. These conditions include cataracts and glaucoma.




Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment



A few options are available to treat DR. However, these treatments should involve your ophthalmologist and medical doctor. The medical doctor will assist to better control your blood sugar levels and other complications arising from diabetes. Your ophthalmologist can use one of the following methods to treat DR.




Laser Surgery



Also known as laser photocoagulation, laser surgery involves sealing off leaking vessels using minute, painless burns to your retina. The number of treatments and burns you receive depends on the severity of your DR.




Vitrectomy Surgery



Vitrectomy surgery aims to drain the gel-like fluid inside your eye. This ensures that any lingering blood and scar tissue is cleared. Then, a substitute fluid replaces the vitreous fluid.




For more information about diagnosing and treating diabetic retinopathy, visit Ridgeview Eye Care at our office in De Soto or Olathe, Kansas. You can also call (913) 270-6017 or (913) 270-8598 to schedule an appointment today.

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