Diabetic Retinopathy in Birmingham, AL

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What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a damaging eye disease that harms the necessary blood vessels of the eye and is often caused by uncontrolled blood sugar, as well as other diabetes-related complications. If these essential blood vessels are blocked, it becomes harder for your eye to retain the nutrients it needs for blood circulation and functionality. As this disease worsens, patients may encounter retinal detachment, macular edema, glaucoma, and vision loss (or even blindness). Unfortunately, the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy might not be noticeable until the condition has progressed into the later stages, which is why our team at inVision Ophthalmology Birmingham takes extra care when it comes to the eye health of our diabetic patients. Our office in Birmingham, AL offers a number of management options for patients who are diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy.

What Are the Causes of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy develops as a complication of diabetes, which can block or damage the fine blood vessels around the retina over time. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to diabetic macular edema (MDE), an eye condition that causes blurry vision, or neovascular glaucoma, which may ultimately result in blindness. Some of the causes and risk factors of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Poor blood glucose management
  • Diabetes that is not being managed or treated
  • Using tobacco products

How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosed?

Diabetic retinopathy is typically diagnosed with a dilated eye exam and additional tests that help to determine the extent of the damage caused by diabetes to the blood vessels in the retina. Tests that may be conducted to confirm retinopathy may include:

  • A visual acuity test, which shows how the eye is focusing and operating at various distances
  • Ophthalmoscopy, which looks at the back of the eye and its components
  • Tonometry, which measures the pressure inside your eye
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT), which monitors if fluid has entered the retina
  • Fluorescein angiogram, which checks for blood vessels leaking inside the retina

If our Birmingham, AL ophthalmologists discover that you have diabetic retinopathy, we will work to assess the development of the disease and go over potential treatment plans.

How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?

There are two primary stages that make up diabetic retinopathy: non-proliferative (early stage) and proliferative (advanced stage). In many cases, patients don't notice any symptoms until their condition is in the proliferative phase. During this stage of the disease, individuals may notice floaters, dark spots, blurriness, or vision loss. To diagnose diabetic retinopathy, our team will first conduct a comprehensive exam. While diabetic retinopathy does not currently have a cure, our team can still help manage your condition and slow the progression of the disease.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?

At inVision Ophthalmology Birmingham, we have many years of experience alleviating the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy for our patients in Birmingham, AL. These symptoms usually include:

  • Sudden vision loss
  • Shapes floating around in your field of view
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain
  • Difficulty seeing in the dark
  • Eye redness

Diabetic Retinopathy FAQ

Is vision loss from diabetic retinopathy reversible?

In most cases, diabetic retinopathy-caused vision loss cannot be reversed. That's why it's so important for patients with diabetes to get regular eye exams so diabetic retinopathy can be diagnosed early and treated to protect your vision.

Can you cure diabetic retinopathy?

No, diabetic retinopathy currently has no cure. Diabetes is a chronic disease, meaning that it is a lifelong condition. That makes diabetic retinopathy a continuing concern requiring regular testing and treatment. There are a number of treatments for diabetic retinopathy, including laser treatments, eye injections, and medications.

Is it possible to go blind from diabetic retinopathy?

If left untreated, yes, diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness because it damages the retina. However, blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy can take many years to develop. That's why regular eye exams offered at inVision Ophthalmology Birmingham are so important for people with diabetes to catch any issues early.

How long does it take to develop diabetic retinopathy?

Once diagnosed with diabetes, many patients can develop diabetic retinopathy within 3 – 5 years.

Prevent or manage Diabetic Retinopathy

Patients with diabetes need to take extra care to ensure that they keep themselves healthy — this is immensely important for their overall wellness, as well as their eye health. While diabetic retinopathy can be scary, our team is here every step of the way to help you manage your condition if you are diagnosed with this disease. Give our office in Birmingham, AL a call to learn more about taking care of your eye health as a person with diabetes.

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