Diabetes is a disease that affects all areas of your body. The diabetic eye doctors at Associates in Ophthalmology urge all diabetic patients to pay careful attention to their eyes, as they are likely to experience a diabetic eye problem called diabetic retinopathy and are twice as likely to experience problems like cataracts or glaucoma.
Diabetic retinopathy is a disease of the small blood vessels that nourish the retina. It is especially prevalent in Type I or insulin-dependent diabetics. In some cases, blood vessels weaken and can begin to leak fluid, fatty or protein deposits and blood, reducing the nourishment to the retina. These leaking vessels can cause cloudy vision that cannot be improved by corrective lenses. In other cases, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These new vessels can suddenly and randomly rupture and hemorrhage. In early stages of this disease, there is little or no loss of vision; therefore a person may not know there is a problem.
As the cells begin to repair, they may cause scar tissue to develop. As the scar tissue heals, it may contract and pull on the retina, leading to a retinal detachment. At worst, diabetic retinopathy may result in permanent and severe vision loss, but rarely does it lead to complete blindness.
To check for diabetic retinopathy, our diabetic eye doctors may perform a diabetic eye test whereby a dye is injected intravenously into the blood vessels. This procedure is known as a fluorescein angiogram. Photographs are taken of your retina while the dye is passing through the eye's blood vessels. This helps show where weak, broken or abnormal blood vessels are.
Diabetic retinopathy treatment includes careful monitoring and, if the condition becomes more serious, a laser may be used to treat weak, broken or abnormal blood vessels. All treatments are done in order to keep the condition from getting worse and often cannot restore previously lost vision. Diabetic eye treatment surgery may be necessary in certain situations.