What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Board-certified Owasso, OK Opthalmologist, Dr. Jay Rigney, recommends regular eye exams and check-ups for the general population, but especially for diabetic patients. Regardless of which type of diabetes a patient suffers from (type 1 or 2), a common complication is diabetic retinopathy. People with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can develop this eye condition. This eye condition refers to damage in the blood vessels of the retina, which is located in the back of the eye. Factors that most contribute to diabetic retinopathy include the type of diabetes, how long the patient has suffered from diabetes, how often the blood gluclose changes, and how controlled the pateint's sugar levels are. While the condition may be mild with few or no symptoms initially, symptoms can worsen over time and even cause blindness. In fact, diabetic retinopathy is credited as the top reason for vision problems among diabetics, as well as the main cause for blindness among working-age adults.
Causes and Symptoms
Diabetic retinopathy is a direct result of having diabetes, where chronic high blood sugar episodes have caused damage to the blood vessels in the retina. The retina is a layer of tissue found in the back of the eye which consists of light-sensitive tissue that’s responsible for detecting light. In turn, diabetic retinopathy can lead to diabetic macular edema (DME), which causes fluid to build-up in the central portion of the retina, the macula, which can lead to vision problems.
While there are usually no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, symptoms can gradually progress. Common symptoms are:
- Vision problems, including distortion and blurriness
- Decrease in visual acuity (sharpness)
- Appearance of floaters
- Vision loss
- Decreased color vision
"I've been to Dr. Rigneys twice now and highly recommend him. I get right in and right out, everything runs on time, and he still schedules enough time to meticulously check my eyes. He really takes time to talk to you and get it right. His office and staff are warm and caring. It's a comfortable environment and I have always felt like they are really taking care of me. Choosing glasses with Tim is a fun experience and I feel so confident wearing the glasses he helped me choose. I also really appreciate that after I got my contacts, Dr. Rigney had me come back to check on them to make sure they were working and make any changes if necessary. From the exam to picking up my glasses and contacts Dr. Rigney is the best. 5 ?????"- S.A. / Facebook / Aug 25, 2017
"Dr Rigney rake very good care of his paitients. I would like to thank him for taking care of me and my wife. He takes time to make sure you are happy with his service. I would recommend Dr Rigney for all of your eye care. His staff is also very helpful. Thanks for everything."- M.B. / Google / Feb 22, 2019
"Dr. Rigney has been my optometrist for 25 years. He has managed my vision changes(glasses, cataract lens replacement, contact lenses) through those years with professionalism and thoroughness. Not once have I felt pressured by hurry or impatience. His staff has always treated me with respect and does their utmost to make sure my vision needs are well-met and at the most compliance with my insurance provisions. I would recommend him, and his staff, to anyone for vision care and surgery follow-up."- J.M. / Google / Feb 14, 2019
"I was VERY pleased with Dr. Rigney and his staff. Dr. Rigney was very professional and took an amazing amount of time to explain things and go answer my questions. He was very thorough and informative. It’s obvious he cares about his patients and wants the best for them. The staff was absolutely fantastic and took their time as well. Very friendly and helpful."- A.B. / Google / Feb 13, 2019
"I recently moved to Owasso and needed to get a vision exam which my insurance covers. I have been struggling with tension headaches for the past few months causing severe dizziness and a lower quality of daily life. Dr. Rigney and his staff were extremely welcoming. If anything, Dr. Rigney takes more than ample time to explain his findings so that you leave his office with an understanding of your diagnosis. I have 20/20 vision, however, through testing it was found that my eyes were straining extremely hard to get to that level of focus for the good vision. Therefore, potentially causing the headaches. Dr. Rigney explained this very thoroughly to me. In fact, Dr. Rigney offered a me the opportunity to try a contact with my prescription for one day at NO COST to make sure it was going to help before having me purchase glasses which are relatively expensive. It was learned that readers with a +1.00 setting would do the same as an extremely expensive pair of glasses. THIS WAS AT DR. RIGNEY'S SUGGESTION. This further ensured me that DR. Rigney had great ethics and morals. Instead of selling me a pair of high dollar glasses, he recommended the readers because he felt they would do just as good in getting my eyes to relax as would an expensive pair from his office. I highly recommend Dr. Rigney for any of your eye care needs!!"- T.T. / Google / Jan 25, 2019
Diabetics should regularly have routine comprehensive eye exams to check for any problems. We will use the visual acuity test, utilizing an eye chart to determine how well a patient can see at various distances. With tonometry, Dr. Rigney will measure the pressure within the eye to see if there are any abnormalities. Pupil dilation widens the pupil so your doctor can get a better view of your retina to see what’s going on with the area. With optical coherence tomography (OCT), light waves are used to capture detailed images of the retina.
In certain cases, we may choose to use fluorescein angiography where you will be injected with a special dye that will go into your bloodstream. The fluorescent dye will highlight blood vessels in the retina to determine if any there’s any bleeding, leaking, or damage present.
Treatment and Prognosis
Drugs like corticosteroids are often given to patients suffering from diabetic retinopathy to alleviate symptoms, such as inflammation. The medications can be injected or implanted into the eye for a continuous delivery. Laser treatment uses laser technology to target and burn damaged and leaking blood vessels to prevent further leaking and to decrease inflammation. Anti-VEGF drugs are injected into the eye in the vitreous gel. The drugs work to block a certain protein that’s responsible for the growth of abnormal blood vessels which can leak fluid.
Although in certain cases there’s no way to reverse vision loss or blindness, most patients can expect about a 95% reduction in the occurrence of blindness with an early diagnosis and proper treatment. Controlling diabetes by keeping blood sugar levels intact is one of the best ways to prevent or slow down the progression of diabetic retinopathy.
Plan Your Procedure
Treat Diabetic Retinopathy
It’s especially important for diabetics in general and pregnant diabetic patients in particular to get routine eye exams to prevent complications. Since diabetic retinopathy is so common, we perform comprehensive eye exams for our diabetic patients. To schedule your eye exam, contact our office as soon as possible.