Diabetic Retinopathy in Chicago, IL
- Patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam every year
- Diabetic Retinopathy is serious eye damage, caused by diabetes, which can result in blindness
- Our surgeon, Jasmeet Dhaliwal, M.D., performs each eye exam to help prevent and treat diabetic retinopathy
- If you experience: fluctuating, blurry and/or distorted vision, eye floaters and spots, development of shadows or blind spots in your field of view, double vision, or near vision problems (not related to presbyopia) contact us immediately
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes mellitus, which causes bleeding in the small blood vessels, in the back of the eye. Over time, these vessels weaken and leak fluid and blood into the retina. Without proper treatment, diabetic retinopathy can result in visual distortions, floaters and even blindness.
Types of Diabetic Retinopathy
There are two types of diabetic retinopathy: background and proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
Background Diabetic Retinopathy
In the early diabetic retinopathy stage, tiny blood vessels in the retina leak clear fluid. Abnormal blood vessels can also leak fats and proteins, which develop into deposits. Depending on where the leaking and deposits occur will affect whether diabetic retinopathy symptoms are noticeable. At this point, the vision is distorted, but not seriously affected.
Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy
The condition is more advanced at this stage. The retinal blood vessels are so damaged that they eventually close off. New and more fragile vessels grow over the retina, and sometimes into the vitreous. They bleed and can cause vitreous hemorrhages. This can block light from reaching the retina, which can make the vision blurry. Abnormal blood vessels can contract and pull the retina away from its base, causing distorted vision. Regular annual eye exams are a necessity for patients with diabetes mellitus because they may not always experience noticeable symptoms. Once they reach the point of having proliferative diabetic retinopathy, they may experience clouding, distortions, blurring or even a complete loss of sight.
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment
Diabetic retinopathy treatment is based on the location of the disease. When leakage is found in the peripheral retina, constant monitoring may be necessary. If retinopathy affects the macula or areas of central vision, our diabetic retinopathy doctor, Dr. Dhaliwal, will usually treat the disease with laser correction. Once damage to vision has been done, it is permanent. Lasers may be used to shrink abnormal blood vessels and reduce risk of new problematic vessels, before they progress further. If a persistent vitreous hemorrhage or a retinal detachment is present, a procedure called a vitrectomy must be performed. This removes the cloudy vitreous and replaces it with a saline solution. The use of an eye patch is necessary for a few days after the procedure.
Diabetic retinopathy, though it can have devastating effects, is best prevented by a healthy lifestyle and regular eye exams. Having control of blood sugar, avoiding tobacco use and monitoring hypertension all decrease the chance of developing proliferative diabetic retinopathy.