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Eye Health and Diabetic Retinopathy

How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosed?

An eye doctor can detect diabetic retinopathy after conducting a thorough eye exam. The exam will likely include pupil dilation so that the doctor can look for any changes in blood vessels, new blood vessel growth, swelling of the retina, and retinal detachment.

How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?

In most cases, laser surgery can prevent significant vision loss associated with diabetic retinopathy.

A procedure called laser photocoagulation can be performed to seal or destroy growing or leaking blood vessels in the retina. Although the procedure is not painful, laser surgery may decrease a person’s peripheral vision.

In some people with diabetic retinopathy, the blood that leaks from blood vessels in the retina may also leak into the vitreous humor, clouding vision. A surgical procedure called a vitrectomy can be used to remove the blood that has leaked into this part of the eye.

If diagnosed in time, almost 90% of people with late-stage diabetic retinopathy can be saved from blindness.

Can Diabetic Retinopathy Be Prevented?

You can help protect yourself from diabetic retinopathy by having your eyes checked at least once a year by an eye care specialist. Women who have diabetes and become pregnant should have a comprehensive eye exam during the first trimester, and close follow-up with an eye doctor during pregnancy (this recommendation does not apply to women who develop gestational diabetes).

You can also help slow down the development of diabetic retinopathy by keeping your blood sugar and blood pressure in check.

When Should I Call the Doctor About Diabetic Retinopathy?

Contact your doctor if you:

  • Have black spots in your vision
  • See flashes of light
  • Have "holes" in your vision
  • Have blurred vision

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on December 26, 2013

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