Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is a complication of Diabetes Mellitus that left undetected and treated can lead to severe and catastrophic vision loss. All patients with diabetes should have regular eye exams and diagnostic testing in order to detect changes in the small blood vessels of the retina that may indicate the need for treatment-even if there is no vision loss!
Diabetic Retinopathy needs to be carefully monitored as it tends to appear and progress in stages beginning with Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy, progressing to Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy, further advancing to Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy and without proper attention, progressing into the most severe stage, Proliferative Retinopathy. At any stage of diabetic retinopathy, leakage from the retinal blood vessels may cause the center of the retina to swell, a condition called Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). Diabetic Macular Edema is a very common cause of vision loss from diabetes. It is also possible to have Diabetic Macular Edema and not have vision loss. Damage to the small blood vessels in the retina that causes diabetic retinopathy is the most frequent cause of new blindness among adults aged 20-74 years old. However, with regular eye exams, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, vision loss can be prevented or halted in most instances.
Diagnosis of Diabetic Retinopathy
All patients with diabetes should schedule routine comprehensive eye exams including dilated retinal exams and retinal photos at Central Maryland Eye Associates on a minimum of an annual basis and more often as suggested by your doctor depending on the health of the retina. The most effective and accurate way to observe and diagnose diabetic retinopathy, including Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) are to perform computerized retinal imaging called optical coherence tomography (OCT) along with retinal photos, which we will recommend again as needed to help preserve the health of the retina.
Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy
At Central Maryland Eye Associates we perform in-office diabetic eye exams and diagnostic testing as well work with your primary care physician and retina specialists to be certain you have access to the care you might need including non-surgical retina injection treatment with Lucentis®, Eylea® or other medications, laser treatment and surgery if needed to help maintain your vision and prevent vision loss caused by diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema.