Diabetic Retinal Exam
If you have diabetes, you are at risk of developing an eye condition called diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to vision impairment and loss. In fact, it is expected that 1 in 3 people with diabetes will develop the condition.
The only way to accurately diagnose diabetic retinopathy is with a dilated eye exam.
Dilated Eye Exam Is Key
When you come to a South Florida Vision location near you, be sure to tell us if you have diabetes. This way, your eye doctor can ensure that dilation and other appropriate diagnostic tests are part of your comprehensive eye exam.
What You Can Expect
You will receive eyedrops that cause your pupils to dilate (widen), so your doctor can more easily see inside your eye – especially to the back of the eye to check the retina for any signs of swelling, irritation, or other damage. Specifically, the doctor will look for:
- Abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina
- Swelling, scarring, or other signs of retinal irritation
- Blood in the eye
Diagnostic tests that may be performed while your eyes are dilated include optical coherence tomography and/or a fluorescein angiography. These imaging tests use a near-infrared light to create detailed images of the condition of the retina. It can help identify swelling and tears, as well as any blood vessels in the retina that may be leaking.
Why It Is Important
Uncontrolled high blood pressure causes damage to blood vessels in the body. When the tiny blood vessels in your retina become damaged, blood flow can become blocked in the area or the vessels may leak blood and other fluid inside your eye. This can cause irritation and swelling of the retina.
Because it is the retina where incoming light is converted to signals the brain interprets as images, retinal damage can cause significant, noticeable visual impairment.
Monitoring Your Condition
When diabetic retinopathy is identified early on, no treatment is necessary, although your South Florida Vision eye doctor will continue to monitor your condition over time. Following through with regular check-ups is critical to preserving your vision. An important component to making sure diabetic retinopathy does not progress or worsen is keeping your diabetes under control.
If your diabetic retinopathy is advanced, you may need treatment by an ophthalmologist who is trained and experienced in providing medical and surgical eye care for all types of eye diseases and disorders. Treatments include injections of medication to inhibit the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye and laser surgery to stop blood vessel leakage in the retina.