Diabetic retinopathy is a severe disease that affects men and women who have diabetes. The condition damages blood vessels in the eye and can lead to vision loss. Early detection is critical to creating a customized treatment plan and protecting against vision loss. At Amirikia Eye Center, Dr. Arezo Amirikia offers comprehensive diagnostic services and treatment for all eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy. If you live in the Pontiac or the South East Michigan area, schedule an appointment online for your next vision exam.
Your retina is the portion of your eye that detects light and transmits signals to your brain to facilitate sight. The elevated blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can damage your retina’s blood vessels, thus distorting your vision.
Diabetic retinopathy has four progressive stages:
In this stage, small areas of swelling known as microaneurysms can leak fluid to your retina.
As diabetic retinopathy progresses, blood vessels swell and shapeshift, losing their ability to carry blood efficiently.
Severe diabetic retinopathy is marked by blockage of many blood vessels within your eye and the secretion of growth factors that prompt the development of new blood vessels.
When diabetic retinopathy reaches the proliferative stage, new blood vessels grow inside your retina and the vitreous gel that fills your eye. These new blood vessels can leak and bleed, and scar tissue may also accumulate, leading to retinal detachment and subsequent blindness.
If you have type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes, you have an elevated risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. As many as 45% of people with diabetes have some stage of the disease, even if they show no symptoms. Pregnant women may suffer from a rapid onset of diabetic retinopathy.
Because the early stages of diabetic retinopathy are often asymptomatic, it’s imperative that men and women with diabetes incorporate routine eye exams into their overall healthcare approach.
Dr. Amirikia can help you determine the best course of treatment. Depending on your condition’s severity, several treatment options are available.
One option involves the injection of certain drugs that block the vascular endothelial growth factor. Known as anti-VEGF drugs, these injections reduce the volume of fluid in your retina and reverse the abnormal growth of blood vessels.
Another approach is focal/grid macular laser surgery. This treatment uses targeted beams of light to destroy portions of your blood vessels to control leaking. Laser surgery is often combined with anti-VEGF therapy for optimal results.
Corticosteroid injections can also help suppress diabetic retinopathy. However, it’s not a good fit for everyone: This approach can increase your risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.
If you have sustained severe bleeding into the vitreous gel of your eye, it may be necessary to remove a portion of your vitreous gel surgically. That process is known as a vitrectomy.
To schedule a comprehensive eye exam and protect against diabetic retinopathy, contact Amirikia Eye Center or book your first appointment online today.