Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy with our Mt. Pleasant Optometrist

Diabetic retinopathy chart

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that is caused by chronically high blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels are not kept within normal ranges, it affects the tiny blood vessels in the retina, causing them to bulge and eventually leak. If the disease is left to progress, the body tries to correct the damage by creating new blood vessels in order to supply nutrients to the retina, but these blood vessels are weaker than the originals and even more prone to leaking. Our Mt. Pleasant optometrist can perform a diabetic eye exam to determine if you have damage to your retina from excessively high blood sugar levels.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy causes progressive vision loss due to the damage it causes to the retina. Individuals with this condition often notice floaters in front of their eyes, blurry vision or a decrease in visual clarity and problems seeing at night or excessive glare while driving at night. In some instances, the condition may cause eye pain and double vision. Untreated diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness.

Diabetic Retinopathy Progression

Diabetic retinopathy is classified according to its severity. The early stage of the disease is called non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy and rarely produces any noticeable symptoms, but an examination of the back of the eye can reveal tiny leaks in the blood vessels. In individuals with type 2 diabetes, this stage can be present even before the individual receives a diagnosis. Individuals with type 1 diabetes generally develop symptoms of non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy three to four years after the official diagnosis.

The latter stage is known as proliferative diabetic retinopathy. The blood vessels at the back of the eye are actively leaking and usually causing a decrease in the amount of blood and oxygen that the retina receives. The body responds by creating new blood vessels. When the disease progresses to this level, the individual may notice a sudden deterioration in visual acuity.

Testing for Diabetic Retinopathy with our Optometrist, Dr. H. Arnold Papernick O.D.

Our optometrist, Dr. H. Arnold Papernick O.D., can perform a diabetic eye exam to check your visual clarity and to determine if you have damage to your retina from chronically high blood sugar levels. Eye exams for individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetes are more involved than a traditional exam. Our eye doctor will test your visual acuity then he will perform a dilated eye exam that looks at the back of your eye and your retina. This allows our optometrist the ability to see all the blood vessels in the back of your eye to determine if they are leaking.

Glasses and contacts can help correct your visual acuity while you work with your primary care or family physician to better control your blood sugar levels, which will help slow the progression of the disease. If you need more advanced treatment or eye surgery to help control the leakage, our eye doctor can refer you to an ophthalmologist for further care.

To schedule a diabetic eye exam with our Mt. Pleasant optometrist, call us at (724) 547-5711.