Diabetic Retinopathy - When To Call a Doctor
Call your doctor immediately if you have
diabetes and notice:
- Floaters in
your field of vision. Floaters often appear as dark specks, globs, strings, or
dots. A sudden shower of floaters may be a sign of a
retinal detachment, which is a serious complication of
- A new visual defect, shadow, or curtain across part of your
vision. This is another sign of retinal detachment.
- Eye pain or a
feeling of pressure in your eye.
- New or sudden vision loss. The
sudden onset of partial or complete vision loss is a symptom of many disorders
that can occur within or outside the eye, including retinal detachment or
bleeding within the eye. Sudden vision loss is always a medical
Watchful waiting is not an option if you have
diabetes and notice changes in your vision.
If you have type 2 diabetes,
even if you do not have any symptoms of eye disease, you still need to have
your eyes and vision checked regularly by an eye specialist (ophthalmologist
or optometrist). If you wait until you have symptoms, it is more likely that
complications and severe damage to the
retina will have already developed. These may be harder to treat and may result in permanent vision loss.
If you have type 1 diabetes, are age 10 or older, and were diagnosed 5 or more years ago, you should have your eyes checked even if you don't have symptoms. If you wait until you have symptoms, it is more likely that complications and severe damage to the retina will have happened. These may be harder to treat. And the damage may be permanent.
Watchful waiting is not an option if you already
have diabetic retinopathy but do not have symptoms or vision loss. You will
need to return to your ophthalmologist for frequent evaluations (every few
months in some cases) so that your doctor can closely monitor changes in your
eyes. There is no cure for the disease. But treatment can slow its progression.
Your ophthalmologist can tell you how often you need to be evaluated.
Who to see
People who have diabetes need to see a doctor who
specializes in eye care for their eye evaluations.
If you have
diabetic retinopathy and need laser treatment or
surgery, you need to consult an ophthalmologist who specializes in treating the
retina and has special training in the care of eye
disease caused by diabetes.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.