How Will Your Optometrist Manage And Treat Your Diabetic Retinopathy?

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How Will Your Optometrist Manage And Treat Your Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that can occur in people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. This eye condition is caused by the sugar levels in the bloodstream; when these levels are high it can affect the blood vessels in the eye, leading to a weakening or swelling in the blood vessels. When this happens, blood vessels can break or leak into the eye, abnormal blood vessels can grow, or blood vessels can become blocked. In the early stages, diabetic retinopathy may not exhibit any symptoms, which is why it is so important to visit an optometrist for a diabetic retinal examination. This can allow your optometrist to recognized the onset of this condition to prevent it from developing any further. Later stages of diabetic retinopathy can lead to blurred vision, increased floaters, retinal detachment, or loss of vision.

How An Optometrist Addresses Diabetic Retinopathy

Identifying Diabetic Retinopathy
When a person has diabetes, this can cause damage to the small and delicate blood vessels in the back of the eye. This area is called the retina. Optometrists can identify when there is an issue with these blood vessels when they perform various eye exams, such as retinal imaging, fluorescein angiography, and optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans. 

  • Retinal imaging is when the optometrist takes photos of your retina. These photos create a 3D image of the retina so the optometrist can see everything in detail and can examine the health of the blood vessels in detail.
  • Fluorescein angiography uses a dye that is injected into the bloodstream. This makes it easier for your optometrist to identify if any blood is leaking into the eye.
  • OCT scans provide cross-sectional imaging of the retina so your optometrist can see the thickness of your retina and if any fluid has leaked into it.

To learn more about what to expect from an eye exam when you have diabetes, read How An Optometrist Performs A Diabetic Retinal Examination.

Managing Diabetic Retinopathy In The Early Stages
In order to treat diabetic retinopathy, your optometrist will need to continually monitor your eye health. This requires regular diabetic eye examinations to observe the health of your blood vessels in the eye as well as a discussion with you and potentially your doctor to know about your continual lifestyle and diabetes management. The best way to treat this eye condition is to prevent it from progressing. This can be done by managing your diabetes.

Treating Advanced Diabetic Retinopathy
If diabetic retinopathy is progressing or if it has already begun to cause issues within the eye at the time of diagnosis, your optometrist may be able to treat the condition to prevent it from worsening. Your optometrist may use intraocular injections or laser therapy. The intraocular injections are used to inject an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drug into the eye to stop abnormal blood vessels leaking into the eye. Laser surgery can be used to stop the leaking of abnormal blood vessels by cauterizing the blood vessels. Retinal surgery can also be used to help save eye health. Although there are several treatment options, if diabetic retinopathy has gotten to the point of needing these treatments, vision may not be fully restored. These treatments attempt to prevent the condition from getting worse. Since diabetes is a lifelong condition, receiving treatment for diabetic retinopathy does not guarantee that this eye condition will not worsen again.


Receive A Diabetic Eye Exam From A Calgary Optometrist

If you have diabetes, you need regular eye exams to ensure that you are not developing diabetic retinopathy. Even if you show no symptoms of this condition, it can develop without your knowledge. By the time symptoms do develop, it can be too late to save your vision. At Sunridge Eye Clinic in Calgary, our staff will ensure that patients with diabetes are assessed for diabetic retinopathy, as well as for other common eye conditions. To receive an eye exam from a Calgary optometrist, contact Sunridge Eye Clinic at 1-403-280-7518 or fill out the online contact form.


FAQ

Q: How often should a person diagnosed with diabetes visit their optometrist?
A: The Canadian Association Of Optometry recommends those diagnosed with diabetes visit their optometrist once per year.

Q: If I control my diabetes, am I immune from diabetic retinopathy?
A: No. While keeping your diabetes under control and carefully monitoring your blood sugar levels decreases your risk for diabetic retinopathy, you can still develop it.

Q: How long does a diabetic retinal exam take?
A: The length of the examination will depend on the tests your optometrist uses. Typically the examination will last anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour, about as long as a regular comprehensive eye exam.


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