Diabetes is a chronic disease. Type 1 diabetes begins during childhood and occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs during adulthood and affects the way the body processes blood sugar. Both types are serious, and without adequate management, can affect many parts of your body.
Uncontrolled diabetes can affect the eyes, causing a condition called diabetic retinopathy. While there is no cure for this condition, the ophthalmology professionals at Cape Fear Eye Associates, PA can create a treatment plan to help slow the progression of the disease, preserving your vision.
What Causes Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetes leads to too much sugar in your blood. Over time, this can cause a small blockage in the blood vessels, cutting off your blood supply. This can cause the growth of abnormal blood vessels that don't develop properly and can leak.
Who Is at Risk for Diabetic Retinopathy?
Anyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy, and certain factors can increase your risk of developing this condition, including:
- The length of time you've had diabetes
- Poor management of your blood sugar level
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Being Native American, Hispanic, or African American
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
In the early stages, you may not experience any symptoms, which is why regular visits to the eye doctor are so important. As your condition progresses, you can begin to experience the following symptoms:
- Blurry vision
- Fluctuating vision
- Spots in your vision, known as floaters
- Dark or empty areas in your vision
- Vision loss
Diagnosing Diabetic Retinopathy
This condition can be diagnosed during your annual eye exam. If your doctor of ophthalmology suspects you have diabetic retinopathy, they will run further tests to confirm the diagnosis.
- Fluorescein angiography: Before the test, your doctor will inject dye into your arm. As the dye circulates through the blood vessels in your eyes, your eye doctor will take a photo. This allows them to detect blood vessels that are closed, broken, or leaking.
- Optical coherence tomography: This test provides images of your retina. It can determine if any fluid has leaked into the retinal tissue and is used to track your condition to determine how well the treatment is working.
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment
In the early stages, you may not need any treatment. As the condition progresses, the following treatment options can help slow the progression of the disease.
- Medication: Your eye doctor can inject medication directly into your eye to prevent the growth of new blood vessels.
- Focal laser treatment: This is a laser procedure designed to slow or stop fluid and blood leaking in the eye.
- Scatter laser treatment: This treatment can shrink abnormal blood vessels.
- Vitrectomy: During this surgical procedure, your eye doctor will create a tiny incision in the eye to remove blood from the vitreous and any scar tissue affecting the retina.
Schedule an Appointment with Our Eye Doctor in Fayetteville, NC for Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it is essential to schedule an annual eye exam every year with Cape Fear Eye Associates PA in Fayetteville, NC. Call us today at (910) 484-2284 for more information or to schedule an appointment with our ophthalmology professionals.