Diabetic Retinopathy in Tuscaloosa, AL

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What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Patients with diabetes are at an increased risk for vision complications, which makes regular eye exams essential to monitor your eye health. Diabetic retinopathy occurs from damage to the blood vessels in the retina as a result of high blood sugar levels. When the blood vessels swell and leak, it can prevent adequate blood flow within the eye. If left untreated, diabetic eye disease can lead to vision loss. The trained eye specialists at inVision Ophthalmology Tuscaloosa provide comprehensive eye exams and partner with diabetic patients to prevent, treat, and manage diabetic retinopathy. Contact our team to learn more about diabetic eye care in Tuscaloosa, AL.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a serious eye condition caused by prolonged high blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. Its symptoms may vary depending on the stage of the disease. In the early stages, there might be little to no noticeable symptoms. As the condition progresses, symptoms can include blurred or fluctuating vision, the appearance of dark or empty spots in the field of vision, difficulty seeing colors, and impaired night vision. In some cases, individuals may experience sudden vision loss or the perception of floating spots or strings (floaters). If diabetic retinopathy is suspected, immediate medical attention is crucial to prevent further vision loss and complications. Regular eye check-ups for diabetic patients at inVision Ophthalmology Tuscaloosa are essential for early detection and timely intervention.

What Causes Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by high blood sugar due to diabetes. Though it happens slowly, too much blood sugar gradually damages your retina, which is responsible for sending light signals to your brain. This, in turn, causes issues with the rest of your vision, including dark spots, flashing, and blurry vision.

How Is Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosed?

Diabetic retinopathy can be detected with a dilated eye exam and subsequent tests. Unfortunately, it cannot be determined with a cursory eye exam in which the eyes are not dilated. Tests that may be conducted during the dilated exam may include:

  • A visual acuity test to see how the eye focuses and operates at near and far distances
  • Ophthalmoscopy to view the back of the eye and its structures
  • Tonometry for monitoring intraocular pressure
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT) to see if fluid has entered the retina
  • Fluorescein angiogram to see if blood vessels in the retina are leaking

If our Tuscaloosa, AL ophthalmologists find that you have diabetic retinopathy, we will work to assess the progression of the disease and review your treatment options.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy does not always show warning signs in the early phases. However, in the more advanced stages, symptoms of diabetic retinopathy can include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dark spots or floaters
  • Trouble reading
  • Color blindness

The team at inVision Ophthalmology Tuscaloosa performs diabetic eye exams to detect any current or potential problems. A series of diagnostic tests will be able to show us a picture of your total ocular health and determine if any intervention is needed. We often perform visual acuity tests to check the quality of your vision, in addition to retinal exams that allow us to view the back of the eye. Sometimes tonometry is also done to measure intraocular pressure. If you are in the later stages of diabetic retinopathy, prompt treatment is generally recommended. Our doctors create individualized treatment plans to help manage diabetic eye conditions and minimize vision loss. Treatment options include medication, injections, laser treatments, and surgeries. In addition to caring for your vision, it is essential to manage your diabetes by living a healthy lifestyle and carefully monitoring your blood sugar levels.

Diabetic Retinopathy FAQ

Is vision loss from diabetic retinopathy permanent?

The damage to the eyes and vision loss from diabetic retinopathy cannot be reversed. But, when diagnosed and treated early enough, most patients can avoid permanent vision loss associated with diabetic retinopathy. That's why Dr. Bedsole and Dr. Choi stress the importance of regular eye exams at inVision Ophthalmology Tuscaloosa for their patients with diabetes.

Are you able to cure diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetes is a chronic condition, meaning most patients will have to manage it for the rest of their lives. This means that there is no cure for diabetic retinopathy, and it will always be a concern. However, with the proper medications and treatments like eye injections, laser treatments, and others, most will be able to manage the health of their eyes to avoid any serious complications from diabetic retinopathy.

Can you go blind from diabetic retinopathy?

Yes, you can. Because diabetic retinopathy damages the retina, if left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to blindness. That said, the process is somewhat slow and can take years. That's why it's so important for patients with diabetes to get regular eye exams.

How long does it take to develop diabetic retinopathy?

For most patients, diabetic retinopathy typically occurs within 3 – 5 years after developing diabetes.

Monitor Your Eye Health

Scheduling regular eye exams in Tuscaloosa, AL is an important part of keeping your health in check when you have diabetes. The eye specialists at inVision Ophthalmology Tuscaloosa are experts in diagnosing diabetic retinopathy and offer innovative management solutions to help reduce damage and prevent further vision loss. Please contact our office to find out more about treatment options for diabetic retinopathy, as well as the many types of insurance we accept.

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