Diabetic Retinopathy

Of the 16 million people with diabetes in the United States, nearly half will develop some form of diabetic eye disease, most of those cases will be diabetic retinopathy.

Retinopathy is an impairment of the retina — the nerve-rich, light-sensing area in the back of the eye that is crucial for sight.

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among Americans between the ages of 25 and 70.

Diabetic retinopathy typically develops without any warning signs. The damage to the eye can occur slowly and is hard to detect without regular and accurate monitoring. Detecting this disease early can save your vision.

Between 80 to 85 percent of people with diabetes will develop some level of retinopathy. Individuals with Type I diabetes are more likely to develop the condition than those with Type II.

If patients with diabetic retinopathy are treated properly before the retina is severely damaged, they will have an excellent chance of stabilizing the disease and stopping its progress.

Diabetic Retinopathy Example
Diabetic Retinopathy Example

Diagnosing Diabetic Retinopathy

Early detection is the most important step in preventing vision loss for people experiencing diabetic retinopathy.

People with diabetes should receive a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. Although a gradual blurring of sight may indicate diabetic retinopathy, changes in the eye may go unnoticed until there is  significant damage. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the more effective efforts will be at preserving your sight.

During a comprehensive eye exam, a Gulf Coast Eye Institute physician will examine the interior of your eye with an ophthalmoscope. Photos of the interior of the eye may also be taken. If there is evidence of blood vessel damage, a special exam called a fluorescein angiography will be conducted.

During a fluorescein angiography, dye will be injected in your arm and photos taken as the dye passes through the blood vessels in your retina. This will allow the physician to identify any blood vessels that may be leaking and to determine how best to correct the problem.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Treating Diabetic Retinopathy

Each patient’s treatment plan is individual and may be based on the patient’s medical history, age, lifestyle and degree of damage to the retina.

In its earliest stages, no treatment may be required for diabetic retinopathy except regular monitoring by your Gulf Coast Eye Institute retina specialist. If treatment is required, your Gulf Coast Eye Institute surgeon will use laser surgery to seal or shrink the leaking blood vessels in a process called photocoagulation.

Steps to Prevent Vision Loss

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, controlling your diabetes is the most important step you can take to prevent further progression of the condition.

  • Monitor blood sugar levels regularly
  • Keep blood pressure in a healthy range
  • Eat a nutritious diet
  • Exercise
  • Take all medications as prescribed

Remember, even if you don’t notice vision changes, scheduling regular vision check-ups is essential for every person with diabetes. Learn more about your treatment options! Schedule Your Diabetic Retinopathy Consultation | Or Call To Talk to a Patient Care Coordinator 956-320-7510.

What Is Diabetic Macular Edema?

Diabetes can have a major impact on every area of the body, including the eyes. The chronic high levels of blood sugar caused by diabetes damage the tiny blood vessels in the macula, a small area in the center of the retina that is critical to sharp vision. As the blood vessels weaken, they leak fluid, causing swelling known as Macular Edema. Without treatment, eyesight can gradually become severely impaired, and total vision loss can occur.

Early detection and treatment are critical to preserving sight. But even with treatment, some people may still experience progressively worsening vision, making it difficult to do everyday tasks, including watching television, reading and driving.

Standard treatment for macular edema includes laser therapy and corticosteroid eye drops or injections. Laser therapy seals off the leaking blood vessels, while corticosteroid medication reduces inflammation and prevents further damage to the retina.

To discover if you are a candidate for treatment and one of the medications to treat Diabetic Macular Edema, call Gulf Coast Eye Institute now, (956) 320-7510 to schedule your appointment.

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