Diabetic Eyecare FAQ

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is the condition of uncontrolled blood glucose (i.e. sugar) levels. Usually this is from the bodies inability to respond or produce enough insulin, the hormone that controls blood glucose levels. This is a life-long disease that requires careful management in order to avoid associated complications. When uncontrolled, diabetes causes progressive damage to the retina, damaging blood vessels which can leak blood or fluid.  The leaking blood vessels leads to irreversible damage to the retina and can cause permanent vision loss. This condition is called diabetic retinopathy, and is the leading cause of blindness among American adults.

What are the symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?

The sobering fact is that you can have 20/20 vision, without any vision problems, and can still have diabetic retinopathy. So it's imperative that you see an eye specialist immediately after you are diagnosed with diabetes to ensure the eyes are unaffected. As the bleeding progresses, the vision will progressively worsen. It is usually painless and slowly progressive vision loss. Sometimes there can be a rapid onset bleed which can lead to sudden, painless vision loss.

Fluctuating vision that comes and goes is not likely to be diabetic retinopathy. Rather, it's likely a sign of poor glucose control. If your glucose is poorly controlled, dramatic shifts in the blood sugar can result in equally dramatic shifts in your vision. This symptom is a sign of poor sugar control and you need to seek your primary care doctor who can help you to tighten your sugar control.  

How is Diabetic Retinopathy treated?

Your ophthalmologist at Professional Eye Associates will focus a laser on the damaged retina, using the laser's energy to stop bleeding by sealing the blood vessels. We can also injected medicines into the eye which facilitate the absorption of the blood and fluid much more quickly and sometimes more effectively than laser treatment alone. Lastly, when these treatments are insufficient, the blood in the eye may need to be removed surgically.

These treatments are effective at slowing or stopping the progression of the disease for some time - but they're not a cure. Because diabetes continues to affect your body, you may experience further retinal damage and vision loss over time. This is why regular monitoring by an eye specialist and your primary doctor are vital to ensure the health of your retinas and your vision.


Is Diabetic Retinopathy treatment painful?

No. You are given drops to numb your eye, and can take a mild sedative if you find it difficult to relax. Your doctor will use a small support-device to keep your eye open, which may give a feeling of slight pressure, but is not painful.

How much time will I need to recover from treatment?

A protective eye patch will be placed on your eye so you'll need someone to drive you home. Take it easy for the rest of the day, and return to Professional Eye Associates the next day to have your eye patch removed and have an eye exam. Depending on the type of diabetic eye care treatment, your recovery time could range from a few days to several weeks.

Are there side effects from Diabetic Retinopathy treatment?

Side effects from Diabetic Retinopathy surgery are dependent upon the type of treatment you receive. Generally, you can expect:

  • Blurry vision for a day or so
  • Small spots in your visual field
  • Difficulties with night vision
  • A loss of peripheral vision to save central vision

What's the first step in handling my Diabetic Retinopathy?

If you are diabetic, it's very important to have your eyes examined regularly by an experienced diabetic eye care doctor and to report any change in vision immediately. Call our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Tim O'Boyle or Dr. Brian Kim. Your consultation includes a thorough examination and discussion of your treatment options. You can ask all your questions and we'll give you clear answers.

Our experienced eye doctors at Professional Eye Associates offer a wide range of vision correction procedures and treatments for eye diseases or damage. If you're in the Dalton, Calhoun or Ellijay areas feel free to contact us to schedule your initial consultation. We look forward to talking with you!

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