Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy also known as diabetic eye disease is a condition that specifically affects people with diabetes.  If you are diabetic, you should receive specialized screenings on a regular basis. These tests are part of a diabetic eye exams.

Diabetic retinopathy affects blood vessels in the back of the eyeball.   The disease is the most common cause of permanent vision loss for people who suffer with diabetes.

The cause of Diabetic retinopathy is the result of high blood sugar from diabetes that damage the tiny blood vessels in your eyeball.  Floaters and vision distortion can be symptoms of Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy has four phases:

  1. Mild Retinopathy - Occurs when small areas of swelling called micro-aneurysms bloom in the blood vessels of the retina.  These areas may leak blood and fluids causing vision loss.

  2. Moderate Retinopathy -  This next phase occurs when the swelling vessels distort and lose their ability to transport blood.  The retina begins to change in appearance.

  3. Severe Retinopathy - In this phase the swelling has grown and is cutting off supply to other vessels.  The swelling causes clots to form, cutting of the supply of nutrients to the surface of the retina.  In response, new vessels begin to form and take over.

  4. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) - In the final phase the new vessels that have formed from the previous phase become weak and fragile and inhibit the growth of scar tissue.  This in turn can cause retinal detachment, which may cause permanent vision loss. 

Testing for Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Visual acuity testing: This is an eye chart test that determines your ability to see at various distances.

  • Pupil dilation: Your pupil is dilated (widened) with drops placed on the surface of your eye. This allows your eye care professional to examine the optic nerve and retina inside your eye.

  • Tonometry: This painless test measures the pressure inside your eyeball.

  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT): The OCT test is like an ultrasound, but uses light waves instead of sound waves to detect tissues inside your body. An OCT test provides detailed images inside your eye that can be penetrated by light.  We may preform a more advance OCT test called Angioplex.  Angioplex gives a crystal clear view of the vessels in the back of your eyeball. 


Diabetic Retinopathy

If you have diabetes, Diabetic retinopathy can be affecting your vision.