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Treating Diabetic Retinopathy

Managing Diabetes & Eye Complications in Azle Texas

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Eye doctors at Azle Eye Care Associates have extensive experience caring for diabetic eye disease. Using advanced diagnostics and equipment, Dr. Matt Miller will monitor your ocular health thoroughly to help you maintain long-lasting clear vision.

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is an almost inevitable complication of diabetes, to some degree. Type I, type II and even gestational diabetes affects multiple body systems, and those with sensitive tissue - such as kidneys and eyes - are particularly vulnerable to damage. Research indicates that when diabetes is uncontrolled, extra stress is placed on your eyes and visual system – leading to the increased risk for the development of eye disease, such as retinopathy.

How does Diabetes cause Retinopathy?

The retina is the delicate tissue lining the inner surface at the back of the eye, rich in light-capturing nerves and tiny blood vessels. Elevated blood sugar levels appear to cause damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. If this damage goes undetected or untreated, vision loss or blindness may result. The risk of retinopathy is increased by poor glucose control and the duration of time you’ve had diabetes.

What are the symptoms of retinopathy?

At the beginning of this eye disease, most people do not notice any symptoms, making it all the more important to be diligent about monitoring the eye for diabetic eye disease.

If it’s been almost a year since you or a loved one has had a diabetic eye exam, book one now.

Over time though, as more of the small retinal blood vessels weaken and leak, or even become blocked entirely. In some cases, the body may attempt to grow new blood vessels, which are much weaker and leakier than normal blood vessels. Leaked blood and fluid, scar tissue and overgrowth of new blood vessels in the retina can actually block the light that enters the eye from being transmitted to the brain, leading to vision loss. Advanced stages of the disease are associated with the following symptoms:

  • Fluctuating sight
  • Seeing dark spots
  • Floaters, spots or strings, that suddenly appear
  • Weak color vision
  • Loss of vision
  • Blurred sight

Call us immediately in our Azle office if you experience any of the above, or any other sudden changes in your eyesight. We strongly recommend that all patients with diabetes come in for complete dilated eye examinations at least once a year in our Azle office.

How is retinopathy diagnosed?

To diagnose DR at an earlier stage – when treatment is much more likely to be successful – regular comprehensive eye exams are critical! Your eye doctor will conduct a dilated eye exam to inspect your retina and inner eye tissues. We may also use digital imagery and other specialized equipment to take a detailed look and compare changes from visit to visit.

Two Types of Retinopathy

Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR) is the more prevalent form. The blood vessels in your retina are weakened by damage, and they begin to lead blood and fluid. Nerves in your retina may also be inflamed.

Advanced Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy is less common, yet much more severe. When retinopathy progresses over time, your healthy blood vessels can close completely. Abnormal leaky blood vessels grow in the retina instead. This may lead to retinal detachment and optic nerve damage due to glaucoma.

How is retinopathy treated?

Our eye doctors specialize in monitoring and prevention - the best medicine!

When nonproliferative retinopathy is mild, it may not need treatment immediately. You will need more frequent eye exams to closely monitor your condition. Improving your blood glucose control can slow or stop the progression of retinopathy, over time. You may also need to consult with your endocrinologist or primary physician for assistance with your diabetes management plan.

Proliferative retinopathy usually requires more invasive treatments. We  work closely with ophthalmologists to co-manage surgery and other procedures to treat DR if it becomes necessary. Treatments include focal laser procedures to stop fluid and blood from leaking; scatter surgery to decrease or eliminate abnormal vessel growth, and vitrectomy to replace the vitreous gel in the eye.

Many advanced retinopathy medications are currently under research and development. Studies on a new injection that targets abnormal blood vessels in the retina are very encouraging. At Azle Eye Care Associates, we keep a close eye on these scientific trends so that our patients benefit from the best, most progressive eye care – as soon as it’s available.

Other Diabetic Eye Diseases

Diabetics are at greater risk for developing other eye diseases, in addition to retinopathy. Diabetic macular edema (DME), cataract and glaucoma are also included under the diabetic eye disease umbrella, and we monitor for the development and progression of these diseases during every yearly diabetic eye exam.

Contact our diabetic eye disease specialists in Azle, TX, to book your appointment today!