Diabetic Retinopathy Can Cause Serious & Irreversible Vision Loss
Visit Us For Effective Diagnosis, Treatment, & Management
Over 80% of people living with diabetes for 20 years or longer will develop some form of diabetic retinopathy. This disease, which only affects people with diabetes, is one of the leading causes of vision loss in the world. Caused by high blood sugar and blood pressure levels, diabetic retinopathy is a very real concern for long-time sufferers of diabetes.
People living with diabetes should have an eye exam performed every year to ensure that their eyes remain in optimal health.
The Importance of Preventative Eye Care
Keeping Your Vision Strong & Healthy
An annual eye exam is an easy way to stay on top of your eyes. By monitoring changes to your eye health closely, we preserve visual acuity and keep your vision strong and healthy.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)
Another Cause of Vision Loss for People Living With Diabetes
About half of people with diabetic retinopathy will also develop diabetic macular edema (DME). DME is when fluid accumulates on the macula, obscuring vision. The fluid originates from weak blood vessels in the eye and can contribute to vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed during a dilated eye exam. During this exam, your eyes are dilated using special eye drops that allow our Optometrist to get a clear view of the back of your eye.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy often develops initially with little or no symptoms. Symptoms may include:
A pronounced decrease in night vision quality
A dark/blind spot in the center of your vision
An increase in eye floaters
Symptoms of diabetic macular edema
DME presents distinct symptoms, including:
If left unmanaged, complete vision loss
Four stages of diabetic retinopathy
Mild nonproliferative retinopathy – The first stage of retinopathy is marked by small microaneurysms that occur in the retina. These microaneurysms damage the blood vessels, potentially leaking fluid into the retina.
Moderate nonproliferative retinopathy – The blood vessels in the retina are swollen, constricting their ability to transport blood and nutrients to the retina.
Severe nonproliferative retinopathy – Due to poor nutrition, much (if not most) of the retina is now starving. This prompts the eye to release compounds that facilitate the development of new blood vessels.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy – New, albeit weak, blood vessels have grown on the retina and in the vitreous gel. These blood vessels are fragile, often dying and leaving behind scar tissue. The scar tissue tugs at the retina and can actually cause a complete retinal detachment, resulting in total vision loss.
Treating & Managing Diabetic Retinopathy & DME
Lifestyle matters – Many studies have shown that lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, play a big role in the development of diabetic retinopathy. We work with our patients to create a sustainable lifestyle that helps manage the development of retinopathy.
Laser treatment – Focal/grid macular laser surgery is an option to address damaged blood vessels. The laser makes hundreds of small, precise burns on the blood vessels, sealing them and minimizing how much fluid they release.
Corticosteroids – This treatment is effective at suppressing the development of DME. However, long-term use of corticosteroids has been linked with cataracts and glaucoma.
Anti-VEGF injections – These injections block a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and prevent the development of new blood vessels in the eye. This results in a decrease in fluid released into the retina.
Why Choose Schaeffer Eye Center?
We continuously explore and invest in new technologies that improve the quality and accuracy of our eye exams, aid in testing for eye diseases (such as glaucoma), and treatment options.
By investing in advanced treatments, such as LipiFlow for dry eye, we can improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic eye conditions. We carry a variety of contact lenses suitable for nearly any prescription, including toric and scleral lenses.
Learn more about the integration of technology into our offices here.
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Our design minded eyewear consultants can assist you in finding the best style to offer comfort that meets your lifestyle needs and fashion sense.
We have grown to 17 locations across Alabama by providing quality service to our patients. Not only are we providers for most of the major insurance plans, we can determine the best use to maximize your benefits.
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