Diabetes is a systemic disease which affects many body parts including the eyes. Diabetic eye disease can often lead to visual impairment and is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. The longer someone suffers from diabetes, the more likely they are to develop diabetic eye disease. While diabetes can be associated with conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma, it’s effects often start in the retina. Over time diabetes can lead to damage to the retina if left untreated. This damage can ultimately prevent the retina from performing its function, leading to loss of vision and eventual blindness in extreme cases. Treatment of diabetic retinopathy can preserve your vision for many years.
If you are experiencing the negative effects of diabetes on your vision, Dr. Armin Vishteh can help. To schedule an appointment at our Beverly Hills or Rancho Cucamonga office, please call 888-514-2020 or email Armin Vishteh, MD today.
What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive condition of the eye in which the blood vessels that supply the retina are damaged. Over time, they will become weak and eventually leak, releasing blood and other deposits such as protein into the retina which can lead to swelling in the retina. This swelling may cause vision problems, but many people do not experience symptoms until diabetic retinopathy has become considerably advanced. Diabetes can also cause a decrease in the oxygen flow to the retina leading to new blood vessel formation which can cause scarring, hemorrhaging into the eye, and even retinal detachment.
Diabetic retinopathy has two phases:
- Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) in which blood vessels weaken and may break, causing
- Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) in which the body is attempting to increase nourishment of the retina by growing new blood vessels. These new blood vessels can lead to obscured vision as they grow into the fluid in the eye and may leak blood there. Scar tissue can increase the risk of detached retina, and the new blood vessels can cause glaucoma, leading to vision loss and eventually complete blindness.
Controlling diabetes can slow the progress of diabetic retinopathy, but if you are experiencing symptoms, you need treatment.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy symptoms to look out for include:
- Blurred vision
- Vision loss, especially in the center of your visual field
- Floaters or dark spots in your vision
You should be getting regular vision exams if you have diabetes, but if you have not seen an eye doctor in a while, the above symptoms tell you it is time to see a doctor now, before you experience more vision loss.
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment
In the early phases of diabetic retinopathy, monitoring and conservative management is indicated. Laser treatment is used in cases of macular swelling which is considered clinically significant. This may be combined with injections in the vitreous cavity in more advanced cases. Laser therapy is also used for treatment of abnormal blood vessels which can form in diabetic eye disease. In advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy surgical intervention is required.
For advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy, Dr. Vishteh will refer you to a retinal specialist to ensure you get the best possible treatment.
If you need treatment for diabetic retinopathy, Dr. Vishteh can help. Please contact Armin Vishteh, MD today for a free consultation at our offices in: Rancho Cucamonga, Burbank, Santa Monica.