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Diabetic Retinopathy – Diagnosis and Treatment in Las Vegas

Treating patients who suffer from the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, we incorporate the latest advances in order to provide the best chances of preventing worsening symptoms.

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Patients who have diabetes mellitus (or simply diabetes) are unable to properly utilize and store sugar, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels that damage the retina’s blood vessels. The retina, which is a layer of nerves located in the back of the eye, detects light and helps send images to a person’s brain. Diabetic retinopathy is the damage sustained by retinal blood vessels.

Types of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy has two classifications: NPDR, or nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy, and PDR, or proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

NPDR, commonly called background retinopathy, happens in the initial stages of this disease. When NDPR occurs, the small retinal blood vessels leak fluid or blood. The leaking causes retinal deposits, or exudates, and swelling. Central vision loss may occur due to secondary conditions such as macular ischemia, or capillary constriction, and macular edema, or retinal blood vessel swelling.

PDR is caused by the mass constriction of retinal blood vessels due to the growth of abnormal vessels. Although the body grows these vessels as an attempt to restore blood flow, the scar tissue that accompanies the abnormal vessels may cause retinal detachment and wrinkling. Since PDR impacts peripheral and central vision, the patient’s vision loss is more severe. Vision-loss conditions, neovascular glaucoma, traction retinal detachment and vitreous hemorrhage, are caused by PDR.

Diagnosing Diabetic Retinopathy

Using an ophthalmoscope, the ophthalmologist dilates the patient’s pupils and examines the eyes in order to detect changes indicative of diabetic retinopathy. If diabetic retinopathy is present, the ophthamologist conducts a fluorescein angiography test or takes color retinal photographs. Often, the ophthalmologist can diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy, during a comprehensive eye exam, before the patient suffers from vision problems.

Treating Diabetic Retinopathy

Preventing the further development of diabetic retinopathy is the ideal treatment. Patients should control their blood sugar to reduce their risk of vision loss. Kidney problems and high blood pressure must also be addressed.

Laser surgery is an option for macular edema, neovascular glaucoma and PDR patients who need to prevent additional vision loss. Patients may also experience partial to complete vision restoration. In some cases, multiple laser sessions are required.

Advanced PDR patients may be candidate for vitrectomy. This microsurgical procedure removes abnormal vessels to prevent further bleeding. If the patient has retinal detachment, it can be repaired with vitrectomy surgery. Surgery soon after diagnosis achieves the best results because traction retinal detachment and macular distortion cause permanent vision loss.

When an Exam Is Necessary

Certain people may need to schedule an exam with their local ophthalmologist right away, such as:

  • Patients already diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy.
  • Pregnant diabetic patients in their first trimester.
  • Patients experiencing non blood sugar related visual changes in one or both of their eyes for several days.