When blood sugar levels are high, they damage blood vessels in the retina, which causes diabetic retinopathy. There are two types of diabetic retinopathy.
This is the most common form of retinopathy. High blood sugar causes capillaries in your eyes to swell, break, and leak fluid. As the condition progresses, fluid leaks into the macula, which is the area of your retina responsible for sharp vision. Untreated macular edema ultimately causes vision loss.
Nonproliferative retinopathy progresses to proliferative retinopathy in some people. In this form, new blood vessels begin to grow in the retina. The new vessels are weak, so they leak blood, which blocks vision, and causes scar tissue. Scar tissue can distort the retina and cause retinal detachment.
You may not have any symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, but your eye doctor can see changes in blood vessels during a diabetic eye exam. As retinopathy worsens, you’ll begin to experience some or all of the following:
Your diabetic eye exam at Mollick Professional Center includes the same tests as a typical comprehensive eye exam, including visual acuity, a slit-lamp exam, and a test for intraocular pressure. A dilated eye exam is important for diagnosing retinopathy because it lets your doctor at Mollick Professional Center closely examine your retina and blood vessels inside your eyes.
While your eyes are dilated, you may also get a noninvasive imaging exam called optical coherence tomography. This advanced assessment uses light waves to take cross-section images of your retina, allowing your eye doctor to see changes in each distinct layer of the retina.
The primary treatments for diabetic retinopathy include: