Diagnosing and Treating Diabetic Retinopathy

According to the 2020 data published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10.5 percent of the people in the United States have diabetes. One of its complications is diabetic retinopathy. It’s a sight-threatening condition that causes progressive retinal damage due to high blood sugar. Diabetic retinopathy has little to no symptoms at first. But over time, the condition can result in blindness. Do you want to learn more about diagnosing and treating diabetic retinopathy? Read on to find out.




Eye doctors diagnose diabetic retinopathy by performing a comprehensive eye exam. The tests generally aim to evaluate your retina and macula. They will start by reviewing your medical history. This way, they can determine your vision difficulties and see if you have health issues that may impact your vision. Your eye doctor will also measure your visual acuity and if you need a new prescription. They will also dilate your pupil to examine the ocular structures, such as your retina. Your doctor will also measure the pressure within your eyes. Depending on their initial findings, additional tests may also be necessary. These include retinal photography and fluorescein angiography.




Treatment generally varies depending on the extent of your diabetic retinopathy. Some of the treatment options include:


Medical Control


One way to keep you from losing your vision is by controlling your blood sugar and blood pressure levels. In some cases, it can bring back some of your vision. You should follow your nutritionist’s dietary recommendation. Similarly, you must take the medicines your doctor prescribed for you.




Your doctor may also prescribe medicines to treat diabetic retinopathy. Currently, they administer these medications into the eye through intravitreal injection. One type of medication is known as an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF). This medication helps reduce macular swelling. It’s also found to slow vision loss and potentially improve vision. Another option is the use of steroid medicines.


Laser Treatment


Your doctor may use scatter laser surgery as part of your treatment plan. This type of laser surgery helps treat advanced diabetic retinopathy cases. The technology shrinks blood vessels in the affected eye. It closes off the leaking blood vessels and keeps them from growing again. To get this treatment, your doctor will apply a numbing medicine into your eye. Your doctor will aim a laser or intense beam of light into your eye using a unique lens. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may require more than one session of scatter laser surgery.




Advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy can also be treated by vitrectomy. In this procedure, your doctor will remove the vitreous gel that fills your eye. It works by draining the clear, jelly-like substance inside your eye, letting your doctor clear any lingering blood. They might also remove the scar tissue from your retina. Doctors generally recommend a vitrectomy if you have retinal detachment or if you suffer from bleeding that doesn’t clear. This surgery is also a viable treatment option if your laser treatment doesn’t adequately stop the growth of new vessels.


Do you have diabetes and have been experiencing blurred vision? Do you find it difficult to see well at night? Do you see floaters, dark or empty spots in your central vision? If so, you likely have diabetic retinopathy.


Learn more about diabetic retinopathy & treatments, contact Five Forks Vision in Simpsonville, SC at (864) 392-8200 to book an appointment.

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