Diabetic Exams and Laser

It is important to have your eyes checked annually if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetic eye disease is much easier to manage the earlier it is diagnosed and treated.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease affecting the retina and is a frequent complication of diabetes. Diabetes damages the small blood vessels in the retina and can lead to poor vision and even blindness. During the early stages, the tiny blood vessels in the eye weaken. The blood vessels develop small bulges that may burst and leak into the retina and into the gel-like fluid inside the eye called the vitreous gel. As the condition progresses, new fragile blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina, impairing vision. This is called proliferative retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy

What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?

It is possible to have diabetic retinopathy for some time without noticing any symptoms. Typically, it does not cause noticeable symptoms until significant damage has occurred and complications have developed. This is why an annual eye exam for your diabetes is important.

Symptoms may include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision or difficulty reading.
  • Floaters or flashes of light in your field of vision.
  • Partial or total loss of vision or a shadow or veil across your field of vision.
  • Pain in the eye.

If any of these symptoms appear for the first time or increase, call us immediately.

Who does diabetic retinopathy affect?

The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy depends largely on two factors, how long one has had diabetes and what type of diabetes one has. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop the disease. In addition, people with Type I diabetes (juvenile onset) are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy than people with Type II diabetes (adult onset).

How to avoid diabetic retinopathy

Help avoid damage to your retina by keeping blood sugar and blood pressure levels near normal. This can slow the progress of retinopathy and prevent vision loss. Have an eye exam by an eye specialist every year. Screening for diabetic retinopathy and other eye problems will not prevent diabetic eye disease, but it can help you avoid vision loss by allowing for early detection and treatment. And see us immediately if changes in your vision occur. Changes in vision such as floaters, flashes of light, pain or pressure in the eye, blurry or double vision may be symptoms of serious damage to the retina. In most cases, the sooner the problem can be treated, the more effective the treatment will be.

How is diabetic retinopathy treated?

There is no cure for diabetic retinopathy. However, laser treatment (photocoagulation) can be very effective at preventing vision loss if it is done before the retina has been severely damaged. Our surgeons are located in Anderson, Indiana. We have been trained extensively in laser treatment (panretinal photocoagulation) for proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

Macular Edema

Another condition associated with diabetic eye disease is Macular Edema. This can be controlled with a light laser pattern to treat leaky microaneurysms which cause leakage and swelling into the macula (the part of the eye where your central vision is). Again, the earlier this is diagnosed the easier it can be to treat. Our ophthalmologists have significant experience in treatment of diabetic macular edema.

Macular edema Normal macula

Diabetic macular edema characterized by hard exudates, microaneurysms, and swelling of the macula

Normal macula

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