Diabetes causes damage to small blood vessels throughout the body, including the retina. The retina is the delicate tissue lining the inside of the eye that receives light and transmits images to the brain. In diabetic retinopathy, damage from these deteriorating blood vessels can cause visual problems.
Two Types Of Diabetic Retinopathy
Background diabetic retinopathy (BDR) is caused by leakage from the retinal blood vessels. Some of the small blood vessels narrow or close, while others enlarge and form balloon-like sacs. These blood vessels both hemorrhage and leak, causing swelling and the formation of deposits called exudates. All of these diabetic changes can cause decreased vision. Another type is proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) which usually begins in a manner similar to background diabetic retinopathy. Closed blood vessels and the development of new abnormal blood vessels cause PDR. These fragile blood vessels grow on the retina’s surface or into the vitreous gel, a substance that fills the inside of the eyeball. Sometimes these new blood vessels break and bleed into the vitreous gel.
What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetic Retinopathy?
Early in the course of diabetes, leaking or bleeding in the retina may be visible to a doctor even before vision is affected. Blurry vision may indicate swelling in the retina. When bleeding occurs, vision may become very cloudy or be completely lost.
Evaluating Diabetic Retinopathy
At Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor & Haun, a thorough retinal examination will determine the health of your eyes and any decrease in visual function. A complete diabetic evaluation often includes a test called fluorescein angiography. Testing involves injecting a water-soluble dye into a small vein on the hand or arm and taking a series of high-speed, specially filtered photographs of the blood vessels in the retina. The results of a fluorescein angiography identify and help the physicians to evaluate areas of leakage or new vessel formation. These results can also help guide laser surgery which may be used to treat diabetic retinopathy.
Treating Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetics are 25 times more likely to become blind than non-diabetic patients. This risk can be significantly reduced with evaluation and care. There are many treatment options to help combat the disease process. Laser surgery is a procedure that involves focusing a powerful beam of laser light energy onto the retina. Another treatment option is intravitreal injections, which involve injection of medicines into the eye to combat diabetic retinopathy.
Laser treatment and eye injections are often helpful in lowering the risk of future vision loss and maintaining your present vision for as long as possible. These treatments require no incisions and may be performed in the doctor’s office. If bleeding into the vitreous gel has occurred, or if scar tissue is pulling on the retina, a surgical procedure called vitrectomy may be necessary. This procedure is usually performed after other treatments have been attempted.
Persons Over Age 50 Should See An Eye Care Professional Every 2 years.
Schedule your appointment today. Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor and Haun are standing by ready to offer personal care and state-of-the-art technology.
For an appointment, call (865) 584-0905.