Diabetic Retinopathy – Video Overview
Omesh Gupta, MD
Wills Eye Retina Service
Hi. I'm Dr. Omesh Gupta, one of the retina specialists with Mid Atlantic Retina and a member of the Retina Service here at Wills Eye Institute. Today, I'd like to talk to you about diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness among working Americans and much of the vision loss can be prevented with early detection and treatment. One of the most important things that you can do to limit the changes from diabetic retinopathy is to control your blood sugar. There is a blood test called a Hemoglobin A1C. This blood test gives us an idea of how well your blood sugar is being controlled over the last three months. It's an important number for you to know as well for your other healthcare providers. Controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol are also imporant in minimizing changes from diabetes.
So how does diabetes affect your eyes?
It's been linked to cataracts, glaucoma, and to changes in the retina.
Diabetes causes bleeding and swelling. This is a picture of someone who I recently saw who came to my office without any visual complaints. He was seen by his primary eye doctor and sent to me for further evaluation. This is a picture of the back of his eye. This part of his eye is called the retina. If you think of your eye like a camera, this is the film of the camera. You can see small red and yellow spots throughout the fine focusing area of his eye. These red spots are areas of bleeding and the yellow spots are usually associated with areas of swelling. You can see in this retina circulation test that those areas initially start to light up and later in the study are leaking quite a bit. This is a problem that can be treated with an office procedure that can significantly lower the risk of this patient from losing further vision.
I hope this gives you a better idea of how diabetes affects your eyes. Do your best to control your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. And remember to get an annual eye exam looking for early signs of diabetic retinopathy.