What is Diabetic Retinopathy & How Do You Treat It with Ophthalmologist Palm Desert?

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among those with diabetes and the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness among working-age adults, according to ophthalmologist Palm Desert. Between 40-45% of those diagnosed with diabetes already have some degree of diabetic retinopathy.

Elevated blood glucose for prolonged periods of time causes damage to the retinal blood vessels (along with the kidneys and nerves). Such damage to the blood supply of the retina can result in abnormal bleeding, swelling of the retina, poor blood flow to the retina, and/or scarring of the retina.

Most sight-threatening diabetic problems, according to ophthalmologist Palm Desert, can be prevented by laser treatment if it is given early enough. It is important to realize however, that you should visit an optometrists Palm Desert so that laser treatment aims to save the sight you have – not to make it better. The laser, a beam of high intensity light, can be focused with extreme precision. So, the blood vessels that are leaking fluid into the retina can be sealed.

What Are The Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is subdivided into two forms: non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) and a more severe form, proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR).

Ophthalmologist Palm Desert say NPDR starts with damage to the retinal blood vessels from prolonged elevation of blood glucose. The blood vessels develop tiny weak areas called microaneurysms. Over time, these microaneurysms can rupture and leak, according to optometrists Palm Desert. This can result in retinal bleeding, or hemorrhage. Fluid from the blood stream can also leak into the retina and cause swelling, a condition called macular edema. Optometrists Palm Desert say that fats and proteins from the blood stream may leak into the retina as well, and are referred to as hard exudates. Macular edema tends to cause central blurring of vision and/or distortion. Over time, poor blood supply can result in death of nerve cells responsible for fine vision (a process called macular ischemia); this can lead to a permanent central blind spot with corresponding untreatable decreased central vision, according to ophthalmologist Palm Desert.

After prolonged poor blood flow, the retina produces substances that promote the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels (a process called retinal neovascularization), according to optometrists Palm Desert. Retinal neovascularization marks the shift from non-proliferative to proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) and is a very serious condition and you should seek the help from optometrists Palm Desert. This development of new blood vessels may appear logical, as the old, original blood vessels are often permanently damaged and poorly functioning, which is why it’s important to visit our optometrists Palm Desert.

However, the retinal neovascularization process tends to do more harm than good over the long-term. The new blood vessels are fragile and tend to bleed into the vitreous cavity, which ophthalmologist Palm Desert say is a condition termed vitreous hemorrhage. According to our ophthalmologist Palm Desert, a vitreous hemorrhage can cause significant floaters in the vision (from floating blood cells) and may cause transient near-total blindness if the hemorrhage is particularly dense. Optometrists Palm Desert say that the new blood vessels may also grow along the surface of the retina, scar, and contract; this can pull on the retina and cause a very serious condition called traction retinal detachment.

How Do You Treat Diabetic Retinopathy?

Optometrists Palm Desert say the most important aspect in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy, according to ophthalmologist Palm Desert is long-term control of blood glucose. Patients should monitor their glucose daily and follow their hemoglobin A1c level with their diabetes doctor. Optometrists Palm Desert will also help control any coexisting conditions that can worsen retinopathy; these include hypertension and elevated cholesterol/lipids.
Retinal intervention is generally aimed toward preventing visual loss from macular edema and complications of proliferative diabetic retinopathy, according to ophthalmologist Palm Desert.