Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment to Save Your Eyesight

Beautiful smiling woman with bright blue eyesThe doctors at Broberg Eye Care provide ocular health screenings and diabetic retinopathy treatment at our convenient Austin, TX practice to help diabetic patients preserve their vision. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common causes of vision loss in America, but many patients experience no symptoms of this disease until it has already damaged their vision. Dr. Peter Broberg, Dr. Halsey SettleDr. William McGlathery, and Dr. Ximena de Sabra test for diabetic retinopathy at routine eye exams to help patients detect this condition early, when it can be treated more simply and effectively. To learn more about diabetic retinopathy, contact our office today.

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Patients who suffer from type 1 and type 2 diabetes often have elevated blood glucose levels, which can damage ocular blood vessels, especially those around the retina, causing them to become weaker, circulate improperly, inflame, or grow abnormally. This is diabetic retinopathy, of which there are two types: nonproliferative and proliferative.

In nonproliferative retinopathy, which progresses from mild to moderate to severe if left untreated, the blood vessels degrade and begin to swell. This can make your vision blurry, cause you to see spots, or make seeing at night more difficult, but many patients experience little to no symptoms during this stage of the disease.

As the condition of the blood vessels worsens, you may develop proliferative retinopathy, in which your body attempts to remedy the situation by growing new blood vessels. However, these blood vessels do not develop properly, so they easily break and leak blood, obstructing your vision. Diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss in both its nonproliferative and proliferative forms if leaking or swollen blood vessels damage the macula. This condition is referred to as macular edema.

Diagnosing Diabetic Retinopathy

Our ophthalmologists strongly recommend that patients with diabetes come in at least annually for eye exams, during which we test for diabetic retinopathy, among other ocular conditions that can result from diabetes. To screen for abnormal blood vessel development in the retina, we usually perform a dilated eye exam, using special eye drops to enlarge your pupils so we can get a better look at your retina through a small magnifying tool. We may also create a 3D map of your eye using optical coherence tomography, generating an image of your eye with special light wavelengths. Our ophthalmologists can use this map to assess your eye for any retinal issues.

Treatment Options

There is no cure for diabetic retinopathy, but there are many techniques that can slow its progression. In its early stages, we often recommend carefully monitoring your eyes for symptoms and working with your general practitioner to better control your blood sugar. If your retinopathy develops further, we can prescribe medicated eye drops. Our doctors also provide injectable VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) inhibitors, medications that can slow the development of abnormal blood vessels.

For advanced cases of proliferative retinopathy or macular edema, we can refer you to a retinal specialist, who may perform laser procedures like photocoagulation to seal leaking blood vessels or focal laser therapy for macular edema. In the most severe cases, a victrectomy may be performed to remove the vitreous gel that has become filled with blood and replace it with saline solution.

Protect Your Vision

Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our ophthalmologists.   

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