Caring for Patients with Diabetic Retinopathy
The effects of chronically elevated glucose from diabetes can have serious consequences for the body’s kidneys, nerves, and eyes. When diabetes leads to eye damage, this is called diabetic retinopathy. A trained optometrist can take care of someone with diabetes, helping to preserve their vision for years to come.
How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosed?
The first step in caring for someone with diabetic retinopathy is to make the right diagnosis. This is completed using a dilated eye exam. The eye doctor is going to place drops in the eyes. These eyes are going to widen the pupils, called dilation. This will provide the optometrist with a better view of the eyes.
When the eye doctor looks into the eyes of a patient suspected to have diabetic retinopathy, he or she is going to look for:
- Abnormalities associated with the optic nerves
- Issues with the blood vessels behind the eyes
- Abnormal blood or fat deposits in the retina
- The developed of new blood vessels
- The presence of scar tissue
- Retinal detachment
- Bleeding in the vitreous humor
In addition to the dilated eye exam, the eye doctor is also going to test the patient’s vision. This will let the doctor know just how well the patient can see out of each eye. The eye doctor will also look for cataracts and measure the pressures behind the eyes to look for glaucoma.
How is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?
The treatment of diabetic retinopathy is dependent on its severity. The best treatment of diabetic retinopathy is always prevention. Patients should make sure they have an eye exam in Toledo performed every year. They also need to follow the advice of their primary care doctor or endocrinologist to make sure their glucose levels are under control.
If diabetic retinopathy is in its early stages, there might not be any prescription treatment from the eye doctor at all. This condition simply needs to be monitored closely.
If diabetic retinopathy progresses to the proliferative stage, which is more severe, treatment is usually surgical. Some of the most common surgical options include:
- Injections: Patients are frequently treated with injections of special medications which reduce or eliminate the leaking diabetic eye vessels. Injections are done in the office and can be repeated as needed to control diabetic bleeding and retinal swelling saving vision.
- Vitrectomy: In this procedure, a small incision is made in the eye to remove blood from the vitreous humor. The eye doctor may also remove scar tissue that could be damaging the retina. This is done in the hospital using general anesthesia.
- Panretinal Photocoagulation: An extension of the first option, this laser treatment is used to shrink any abnormal blood vessels. Scattered laser burns cause the abnormal blood vessels to scar. This usually takes multiple sessions.
In order to find the right treatment option for each patient, an eye doctor will handle every case on a case by case basis. Visit Vision Associates today to discuss your treatment options with a trained eye doctor in Toledo!