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
"Excellent experience. Dr. Rigney took the time to understand what I needed help with and provided all the information I needed to best care for my eye sight. Courteous and professional staff and service. Would definitely recommend."- D.G. / Google / Jan 11, 2019
"I have always had poor vision and had made peace with the idea that my vision would never be very good, even with glasses. I saw Dr. Rigney for the first time and he took his time to make sure he got the prescription just right. I picked up my glasses today and broke down in tears as I drove home. Everything was crisp and sharp—even the tiniest letters that were far away. I can really see now! I would be remiss if I didn’t add that he has the sweetest receptionist ever. Miss Mary is a gem!"- K.D. / Google / Jan 01, 2019
"Excelente service, doctor Rigney is full of knowledge and explain very well all the test he do . Also is one of the few places that have all the equipment to check your eyes,. I moved to Florida but I came back just to do my yearly checkup with him. You can get your prescription glasses there too."- Y.T. / Google / Dec 14, 2018
"Thorough doctor was very compassionate made time even for a new patient by far one of the best doctors I've ever been to"- H.S. / Google / Oct 19, 2018
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.