Diabetic retinopathy is a serious eye condition that affects people with diabetes. When left unmanaged, diabetic retinopathy can cause permanent vision loss and even blindness. Patients who have diabetes must be careful to control their blood sugar to avoid sometimes-irreversible damage to their sight. Fortunately, the talented doctors at Access Eye in Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Stafford and King George, VA have the experience and knowledge to help their patients with diabetes preserve as much of their vision as possible.
What Diabetic Retinopathy Does to the Eyes
When blood sugar spikes, this can harm the blood vessels located in the retina (the layer at the back of the eye that passes light to the optic nerve). Consequently, these vessels can inflate and seep blood, while also generating new and irregular vessels. Many patients who have diabetic retinopathy go on to develop other serious eye problems like macular edema, neovascular glaucoma and retinal detachment.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
Patients may notice symptoms that include:
- Blurry vision
- Declining clarity of vision
- Poor night vision
- Redness of the eyes
- Eye pain or discomfort
The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy tend to be difficult to spot in the condition’s earliest stages. Therefore, the doctors at Access Eye stress to patients with diabetes the importance of undergoing regular eye examinations so that diabetic retinopathy can be diagnosed and treated before stealing some of these patients’ sight. Optometrists can check for diabetic retinopathy with an easy, pain-free dilated eye examination.
Treatment Options for Diabetic Retinopathy
In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy is often best treated with careful management of diabetes to stop or slow the progression. If diabetic retinopathy advances or becomes “proliferative,” then prompt treatment is necessary.
Also known as focal laser treatment, this procedure can help to stop or at least decelerate the seeping of blood into the eye. The eye doctor identifies the leaky blood vessels and seals them with the laser to great effect.
Pan-retinal photocoagulation is a fellow laser treatment. The objective of this procedure is to use laser energy to prevent the growth of new vessels. Fortunately, these treatments are not painful beyond a momentary and slight burning sensation.
Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Inhibitors
This medication is injected directly into the vitreous to relive fluid buildup and halt the generation of new blood vessels. VEGF inhibitors have been found to stabilize vision in about 90% of patients. Currently, three types of anti-VEGF drugs are available — Lucentis, Eylea and Avastin — all of which have been proven safe and effective. Periodic injections are necessary for long-lasting results.
Vitrectomy is a surgery that drains the vitreous (or clear liquid) from the eye so that the doctor has easy access to remove scar tissue and leaked blood that come about as a result of diabetic retinopathy. It is then safe to replace with a synthetic fluid.
Make an Appointment
Whether you know you need treatment for diabetic retinopathy or have diabetes and now understand the importance of regular screenings for this condition, the outstanding team at Access Eye is here to help you with warm, attentive care. To ensure that high blood pressure does not steal your vision, please call (504) 371-2020 or self-schedule at your convenience by clicking here.