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Diabetic Retinopathy

OMNI Eye Specialists is a leader in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes) that causes damage to the blood vessels of the retina in the eye.

With diabetes, the body does not use and store sugar properly. High blood sugar levels create changes in the veins, arteries and capillaries that carry blood throughout the body. This includes the tiny blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive nerve layer that lines the back of the eye. Individuals who have had diabetes for a long time and/or have uncontrolled spikes in blood sugar are more prone to developing diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy often has no noticeable symptoms until it is too late to reverse or correct the damage done to the eye.

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of new blindness in adults. In most cases, vision loss from diabetes can be prevented or restored if caught in time. Patients require routine examination with treatment applied before vision becomes blurry. Patients with diabetes should be examined at least once a year. Laser surgery is often needed to prevent vision loss in most diabetics.

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Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

People with diabetic retinopathy sometimes have no symptoms until it is too late to treat them.

It is uncommon to have symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy but as the condition progresses, you may experience symptoms including:

  • Spots or dark strings in your vision (floaters)
  • Blurred vision
  • Dark or empty areas in your vision
  • Vision loss
  • Difficulty with color perception

Types of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is usually classified as early or advanced.

  • Early onset diabetic retinopathy is also referred to as nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR). In this stage of the condition new blood vessels are not growing and the walls of the blood vessels in your retina begin to weaken.
  • Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR) is the most advanced and severe form of the condition.  In PDR, the retinal blood vessels are so damaged they close off. In response, the retina grows new, fragile blood vessels. Unfortunately, these new blood vessels are abnormal and grow on the surface of the retina, so they do not resupply the retina with blood.Occasionally, these new blood vessels leak and cause a vitreous hemorrhage. A small amount of blood will cause dark floaters, while a large hemorrhage might block all vision, leaving only light and dark perception.

Specialized Treatment for Advanced Diabetic Retinopathy

While the body usually absorbs blood from a vitreous hemorrhage caused by PDR, it can take days, months or even years. The experts at OMNI Eye Specialists perform specialized procedures to minimize the damage from a vitreous hemorrhage including:

  • Laser eye surgery, which is used to shrink the abnormal blood vessels and reduce the risk of bleeding.
  • Vitrectomy, a procedure where an OMNI Eye surgeon removes the hemorrhage and the abnormal blood vessels that caused the bleeding. This procedure is also performed if a retinal detachment is detected.

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Early Detection and Prevention

For patients with diabetes, protecting the eyes should be a top health priority. Two steps to take now include:

  1. Control your blood sugar levels to minimize damage to the blood vessels in the eye and slow the path to developing diabetic retinopathy.
  2. Get yearly eye exams. Diabetic retinopathy is best diagnosed with a dilated eye exam, performed by your OMNI Eye professional.

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