Diabetes is a severe condition that causes too much sugar in the blood. This condition causes complications with many parts of the body and the body systems. It can cause a complication of the eye called diabetic retinopathy. It is characterized by damage to the blood vessels or new blood vessels in the retina. Although there is no cure for this condition, our Lock Family Eye Care professionals can create a treatment plan to slow the disease's progression.
Who Is at Risk for Diabetic Retinopathy?
Although anyone with diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy, there are risk factors that can increase your chance of developing the condition. These include:
- The length of time you have diabetes (the longer you have the disease, the higher the risk)
- Having poor control of your blood sugar
- Having high cholesterol
- Having high blood pressure
- Being pregnant
- Being a smoker
- Being Native American, Hispanic or African-American
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy can cause a variety of symptoms. As the disease progresses, the worse the symptoms become. These include:
- Blurry vision
- Fluctuating vision
- Seeing dark spots or strings in your vision, known as floaters
- Trouble seeing colors
- Empty spots or dark areas in your vision
- Vision loss
How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosed?
Diabetic retinopathy can be detected during your annual eye exam. There are a few things that our optometrist will look for, including:
- Abnormal blood vessels
- Blood or fatty deposits in the retina
- The growth of new blood vessels
- Scar tissue on the retina
- Bleeding in the vitreous
- Abnormalities in the optic nerve
If our eye doctor suspects that you have diabetic retinopathy, they will run a couple more tests.
- Fluorescein angiography: This test is designed to pinpoint blood vessels in the eye that are broken, closed, or leaking fluid.
- Optical coherence tomography: This test is designed to measure the retina's thickness. It can also track the disease's progression and determine how well the treatment is working.
How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?
In the early stages, your eye doctor may want to monitor your condition. As the disease progresses, a few treatment options can slow the disease's progression.
- Focal laser treatment: This procedure is designed to stop or slow blood and fluid leaking in the eye.
- Scatter laser treatment: This treatment is designed to shrink abnormal blood vessels that have formed.
- Vitrectomy: This is a surgical procedure where a tiny incision is made in the eye to help remove blood from the vitreous and remove any scar tissue that is tugging on the retina.
- Medication injections: Your optometrist can inject medication into the eye that will prevent new blood vessels from forming.
Contact Us for Diabetic Retinopathy
If you have diabetes, it is essential that you schedule annual eye exams with our team at Lock Family Eye Care in West Des Moines, IA. We are committed to providing our patients the quality eye care they need. To schedule an appointment, give us a call today.