Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment in Long Island
Diabetics need to be hypervigilant about their eye health because they are at an increased risk of complications. Without the proper care and attention, diabetic eye disease can progress, eventually causing irreversible vision loss. Here at The Ophthalmic Center, we offer management and treatment of diabetic eye disease, including diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes, we encourage you to see us regularly for your care.
What Causes Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels in the retina sustain damage. Initially, diabetes causes these blood vessels to leak, which leads to retinal swelling (called macular edema) and vision loss. As the disease progresses, the retinal vessels close. This prevents the retina from receiving the nourishment it needs. In order to compensate for the lack of normal circulation, the retina grows new abnormal blood vessels. These irregular blood vessels can cause severe loss of vision with bleeding, scar tissue growth and retinal detachment.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
- Diabetic retinopathy symptoms may include:
- Blurry vision
- Vision that fluctuates
- Dark or empty areas of vision
- Vision loss
In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy may not cause any symptoms. You can have retinal swelling and not notice because you enjoy excellent vision. However, if the disease progresses too far, the consequences can be irreversible. Therefore, you should have your eyes checked yearly by an eye doctor if you have diabetes (even if there are no visual symptoms).
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatments – Understanding Your Options
Once diagnosis has been confirmed, the TOC Eye® team will work with you to map out a plan of treatment based on your unique needs.
If your case is in the early stages, you may not need immediate treatment. You may be monitored closely until the doctor determines intervention is needed.
The goal of treatment is to halt the growth of the abnormal blood vessels. This can be accomplished through laser treatment or surgical removal (called vitrectomy surgery). Depending on the specific retinal problem, laser treatment may stop or slow the blood vessels from leaking in the eye or it may shrink the abnormal blood vessels. Laser treatment may be performed on an outpatient basis in an office setting. Vitrectomy involves removing blood from the eye and scar tissue that tugs on the retina. The surgery may be performed in a hospital or surgery center with anesthesia.
If you have diabetes, there are things you can do to stave off the progression of diabetic retinopathy and reduce your risk of vision loss. The most important thing you can do is to control your diabetes to maximize the health of your retinal circulation (and circulation to the rest of your organs). Maintaining normal or near-normal blood glucose levels makes it less likely that you will develop related eye disease. We recommend you eat healthy meals, practice portion control, exercise regularly, avoid smoking and take your medications as prescribed. Your family doctor can provide additional medical guidance and supervision.
Schedule an Eye Exam at TOC Eye®
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and have not had your eyes checked recently, TOC Eye® encourages you to schedule an exam with our team. We can look for potential problems and, if we detect anything suspicious, lay out your treatment options. To make an appointment at TOC Eye®, please call us at 631-751-2020 or contact us via our email form.