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Diabetic Retinopathy

Diagnoses and Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy Provided By Your Yardley Eye Doctor

Unless managed consistently, diabetes may damage blood vessels in the body, leading to development of diabetic neuropathy and diabetic retinopathy. When excess blood glucose adheres to blood vessels, this glucose interferes with the ability of blood vessels to send fresh blood to all parts of the body. If your Yardley doctor of optometry diagnoses you with diabetic retinopathy, this means blood vessels in your eyes are being damaged by high blood sugar levels. Especially vulnerable to diabetic retinopathy is the retina, or the part of your eye that transmits light images to the optic nerve.

Diagnosing Diabetic Retinopathy

Your optometrist will examine your eyes to determine if tiny blood vessels crisscrossing your retina are providing adequate nutrients and oxygen to the retina. Evidence of blood vessel abnormalities like aneurysms may be detected during a diabetic retinopathy exam if your eye doctor discovers blood leaking into your retina. While new blood vessels emerge when old ones weaken and die, new vessels emerging due to diabetic retinopathy are not healthy and often leak blood as well. Continued bleeding into the eye may irreversibly damage the retina and lead to permanent loss of vision.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

People with early stage diabetic retinopathy typically do not know anything is wrong until they have their eyes examined by their Yardley optometrist. Signs you may have progressive diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Blurry or double vision
  • Dark specks or floaters interfering with your vision
  • Reddish streaks or flashes of light in your vision field
  • Blind spots appearing anywhere in your vision field
  • Inability to judge depth properly

Diabetic retinopathy is painless and generally affects both eyes rather than just one eye.

Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

Early Stage Diabetic Retinopathy

Retinal blood vessels start to experience areas of swelling where blood cannot flow freely through damaged vessels.

Moderate Stage Diabetic Retinopathy

As the disease progresses, swelling and blockage of additional blood vessels further reduces blood flow to the retina.

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

If your doctor of optometry diagnoses you with proliferative diabetic retinopathy, this means extensive disruption of blood flow has triggered rapid growth of new vessels in the eye's vitreous and retina. Since these vessels are weak and unhealthy, they easily rupture and leak blood into your retina.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy

Photocoagulation, a type of laser treatment that removes leaking blood vessels, is effective for preventing loss of vision due to diabetic retinopathy, if the retina has not been damaged severely. Removing the vitreous gel (vitrectomy) is also helpful for improving vision. In other cases, your eye doctor may recommend injections to stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels or anti-inflammatory medications to shrink newer blood vessels.

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