Diabetic retinopathy is a serious eye disorder that is usually found among people suffering from diabetes, an inability of the body to control the amount of sugar in the blood. Anyone who has diabetes should be regularly screened for diabetic retinopathy through a special diabetic retinal eye exam done by our eye specialist in Laurel at The Retina Group of Washington. Our doctor has a great deal of training and experience in diagnosing and treating diabetic retinopathy and other very serious eye ailments.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the tiny blood vessels in the retina become weaker and small bulges called microaneurysms occur and often burst causing blood spots to appear in the field of vision. This effect may not show up for years after the person is diagnosed with diabetes. As the condition worsens fluid and protein leaks from the damaged blood vessels and cause the retina to swell. This can cause mild to severe vision loss depending on which part of the retina is affected. If the center or macula is affected the vision loss is more severe. Our eye specialist in Laurel uses specialized technology to diagnose diabetic retinopathy. Our doctor will perform a dilated eye exam and perform a visual acuity test to see if any vision has been lost. An ophthalmoscopy and slit lamp test allows our doctor to examine the back of the eye and other structures to detect clouding or changes in the retina. Our practice uses gonioscopy to determine if the drainage angle, the areas that drain fluid out of the eye are open or closed. A fluorescein angiogram can detect and locate leaking blood vessels in the retina. In patients with diabetic retinopathy fundus photography can detect changes in the eye overtime to determine if treatment is working.
Unfortunately, once vision is lost to diabetic retinopathy it cannot be restored, so the best way to treat the disease is to discover it early before severe vision loss occurs. Our eye specialist in Laurel can control the disease through advocating for better control of the underlying diabetes and blood sugar levels. Laser surgery is often used to control blood vessel leakage; the laser is often very effective assuming that the retina is not severely damaged before treatment has begun. In more serious cases surgery can be used to remove vitreous gel from the retina, which improves vision, and sometimes doctors use injections of VEGF to help shrink the blood vessels. The bottom line is that the earlier the disease is caught the better it can be controlled and your vision safeguarded, so if you have diabetes or any symptoms of retinopathy please contact our office as soon as possible.