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Diabetic Retinopathy

Retina Eye Specialists

Raghu C Murthy, MD

Ophthalmology & Retina Specialist located in South Pasadena, CA

Diabetic retinopathy is the top cause of new cases of blindness in adults, affecting nearly one-third of diabetic adults over the age of 40. Regular eye exams to monitor your eyes allow Raghu Murthy, MD, FACS, at Retina Eye Specialists to detect the earliest signs of diabetic retinopathy and start treatment long before you develop symptoms that alert you to a problem. If you have diabetes, schedule a comprehensive eye examination today. Call the offices in South Pasadena, California, or use the online booking feature.

Diabetic Retinopathy Q & A

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetes causes high blood sugar, which gradually damages the blood vessels in your retina. That’s when you have diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy progresses through two stages: nonproliferative and proliferative.  Additionally, you can get Diabetic Macular Edema with either stage of disease.

Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy

In the early stage of diabetic retinopathy, the damaged blood vessels start to leak. As the fluids build up, they cause macular edema (swelling), which damages the nerves. Macular edema is a common cause of vision loss in patients with diabetic retinopathy.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy

As diabetic retinopathy progresses, blood flow to the retina is impaired, forcing the growth of new blood vessels. However, these vessels are abnormal and fragile, and easily bleed into your eye. Light bleeding results in floaters, while heavy bleeding can cause complete vision loss.

During the proliferative phase, you’re also at risk for retinal detachment and increased eye pressure resulting in glaucoma.

What symptoms develop due to diabetic retinopathy?

Most people don’t have symptoms in the early stage of diabetic retinopathy. 

As the disease progresses, you’ll experience problems such as:

  • Seeing more floaters
  • Having blurry vision
  • Having changing vision (from blurry to clear)
  • Having dark areas in your field of vision
  • Developing poor night vision
  • Developing reduced color acuity
  • Noticing colors look faded
  • Developing complete vision loss

By the time these symptoms appear, retinal damage has already developed, and you’re on the path to vision loss. 

When you have frequent dilated eye exams, Dr. Murthy can examine your retina and detect signs of diabetic retinopathy while the condition is still in an early stage.

How is diabetic retinopathy treated?

The first line of treatment is two-pronged. You need to restore normal blood sugar levels with lifestyle changes and medications if needed. 

Additionally, the team at Retina Eye Specialists recommends the best treatment based on the stage and severity of your diabetic retinopathy.

Most patients need treatments such as injections of anti-VEGF medications or laser surgery. These treatments help to shrink existing abnormal vessels, stop the growth of new blood vessels, and reduce swelling.

If you have severe bleeding into your eye, Dr. Murthy may recommend a vitrectomy. During a vitrectomy, the gel-like vitreous that fills the center of your eye is removed and replaced with a clear fluid.

What other vascular diseases affect the retina?

Though diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common vascular problems, it’s not the only condition that damages retinal blood vessels. 

Examples of retinal vascular diseases and conditions include:

  • Hypertensive retinopathy
  • Retinal vein and artery occlusions
  • Retinal arterial macroaneurysm
  • Retinal vasculitis
  • Retinopathy of prematurity
  • Intraocular vascular tumors

The team at Retina Eye Specialists specializes in treating all vascular conditions that damage the retina and threaten your vision. 

Routine and frequent eye care is the only way to protect your vision from the damaging effects of diabetic neuropathy. Call either office or schedule an appointment online today.