Our doctors work closely with area primary care doctors to provide quality, patient-focused diabetic eye care that is so important to patients with diabetes.
Diabetic retinopathy is one of the conditions we can diagnose early–even before symptoms begin–so that effective treatment can be provided.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic Retinopathy is a condition occurring in persons with diabetes, which causes progressive damage to the retina, the light sensitive lining at the back of your eye. It is a serious sight-threatening complication of diabetes.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
- Seeing spots or floaters in your field of vision
- Blurred vision
- Having a dark or empty spot in the center of your vision
- Difficulty seeing well at night
In patients with diabetes, prolonged periods of high blood sugar can lead to the accumulation of fluid in the lens inside the eye that controls eye focusing. This changes the curvature of the lens and results in the development of symptoms of blurred vision. The blurring of distance vision as a result of lens swelling will subside once the blood sugar levels are brought under control. Better control of blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes also slows the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy.
An eye doctor is an important member of the diabetes health care team. Often there are no visual symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. Part of living with diabetes and successful eye care is having a comprehensive dilated eye examination on at least an annual basis – more often for those people with existing eye issues or more serious retinopathy. Early detection and treatment can limit the potential for significant vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.
How is Diabetic Retinopathy diagnosed?
A comprehensive eye examination can help diagnose diabetic retinopathy. Testing, with special emphasis on evaluation of the retina and macula may include:
- Patient history to determine your vision difficulties, presence of diabetes, and other general health concerns that may be affecting your vision
- Visual acuity measurements to determine the extent to which central vision has been affected
- Refraction to determine the need for changes in your eyeglass prescription
- Evaluation of the ocular structures, including the evaluation of the retina through a dilated pupil
- Measurement of the pressure within your eye
- Retinal photography or tomography to document current status of the retina
Supplemental testing, such as fluorescein angiography to evaluate abnormal blood vessel growth, may need to be performed by a retina specialist.
How is Diabetic Retinopathy treated?
Treatment of diabetic retinopathy depends on the stage of the disease and is directed at trying to slow or stop the progression of the disease. In the early stages of Non-proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy, treatment other than regular monitoring may not be required. Following your doctor’s advice for diet and exercise and keeping blood sugar levels well-controlled can help control the progression of the disease.
If the disease advances, leakage of fluid from blood vessels can lead to macular edema. It may require laser surgery to seal leaking blood vessels or to discourage new leaky blood vessels from forming. Injections of medications into the eye may be needed to decrease inflammation or stop the formation of new blood vessels. In more advanced cases, a surgical procedure to remove and replace the gel-like fluid in the back of the eye, called the vitreous, may be needed. A retinal detachment, defined as a separation of the light-receiving lining in the back of the eye, resulting from diabetic retinopathy, may also require surgical repair.
How do you make an appointment for your comprehensive eye exam?
Frantz EyeCare has five locations throughout Southwest Florida. Simply call the office that is most convenient for you. When you complete your patient registration forms, please be sure to include your primary care physician’s name so that we can establish ongoing communications between our offices to assure you that you will receive the excellent continuity of care that you expect and deserve.