Diabetic retinopathy is common in diabetic people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. During its onset, the disease is asymptomatic and may go undetected for some time before it develops.
That is why diabetics need to schedule regular eye exams to help identify and look for treatment for the disease early. Note that diabetic retinopathy treatments help reduce visual loss or slow the progression but cannot restore lost vision.
If you are diabetic, your eye doctor may schedule a routine screening for diabetic retinopathy. This process is vital to help detect this eye disease in its early stages. All diabetic patients over the age of 12 must undergo diabetic retinopathy screening at least once a year.
During the screening process, the eye doctor performs the dilated eye exam where they dilate the pupils of the eyes to get a better view of the insides of the eyes.
Eye doctors use special eye drops to dilate the pupils. During the screening, the eye doctor takes images of the retina for further analysis. You may experience blurry vision after the screening that could last for five to six hours, depending on the type of eye drops used.
Several tests can confirm diabetic retinopathy.
Blood tests. Diabetic retinopathy is a result of high levels of blood sugar in the body. Too much sugar in the blood blocks the tiny blood vessels found in the retina of the eye, causing damage to these vessels. If left untreated, this condition continues to get worse and may cause vision problems or even lead to blindness. Eye doctors do blood tests to assess the level of blood sugar in the system.
Tonometry. This test assesses eye pressure.
Fluorescein angiography. One of the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy is burst blood vessels in the eyes, causing fluid leakage or bleeding. This test involves applying a special dye to the eyes to help the eye doctor flag up any vascular defects.
Slit-lamp biomicroscopy. Eye doctors use this technique to examine the retina and anterior eye structures at variable magnifications. This process is vital to help eye doctors determine the best type of treatment based on the severity of the condition.
Optical coherence tomography. This test involves taking highly magnified images of retinal structures to help determine the thickness and layers of the retina.
Fundoscopy or ophthalmoscopy. Eye doctors use a piece of special equipment known as an ophthalmoscope to examine the health of the retina by looking inside the eye’s fundus.
Visual acuity test. This is a simple test where the patient must read numbers and letters of different sizes displayed on a chart.
The type of treatment a patient receives for diabetic retinopathy depends on his or her general health, age, and symptoms. The good news is that people with diabetic retinopathy have a good chance of saving their vision with early intervention. Common diabetic retinopathy treatments include:
To know more about diagnosing and treating diabetic retinopathy, visit West Texas Eyecare at our office in Fort Stockton or Pecos, Texas. You can call (432) 336-3662 or (432) 445-3662 today to schedule an appointment.