Diabetes is a disease, which occurs when the body does not generate enough insulin to properly regulate the individual's blood sugar level. The disease, which can occur in both adults and children, poses many threats to the individual's vision. The deteriorating effect that diabetes has on the eye is called Diabetic Retinopathy. Patients who have been diagnosed with Diabetes need to undergo regular comprehensive eye exams by an ophthalmologist to monitor and properly treat their Diabetic Retinopathy.
There are two types of Diabetic Retinopathy. The earliest or initial phase is referred to as Background Diabetic Retinopathy. In this earliest stage the disease begins to weaken the arteries in the eye causing them to leak fluid and swell. Most patients do not experience any significant symptoms at this time. The second type of diabetic Retinopathy is known as proliferate diabetic retinopathy. In this stage the retina experiences a lack of oxygen due to the inability of the weakened arteries to effectively circulate blood through the retina. In a sense the retina becomes starved for oxygen. To compensated small fragile blood vessels begin to form in an attempt to bring more oxygen to the retina. These tiny vessels break easily leaking blood into the retina. This causes floaters to form and the patient to experience a significant decrease in overall vision. If left untreated the vessels will continue to grow and break forming scar tissue, which may result in more serious conditions such as retinal detachment or glaucoma.
It is important for patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes to be carefully evaluated yearly by an ophthalmologist or eye surgeon. Dr. Balin performs a special diagnostic test known as a fluorescein angiography to properly evaluate and monitor the progression of the disease in the retina. The test is administered by eye surgeon Nancy A. Balin, MD, FACS, at the Balin Eye & Laser Center in Western Massachusetts. A small amount of dye (fluorescein) is injected into the patients arm. The dye travels through the body to the blood vessels of the eye. A special camera is used to photograph the dye as it circulates through the blood vessels illuminating areas in the eye where vessels are swollen or leaking. Dr. Balin will analyze the fluorescein angiogram to accurately diagnose the condition of the retina and identify the degree of treatment needed.
If laser surgery is required, eye surgeon Nancy Balin, MD, FACS, will perform eye surgery near Springfield in Western Massachusetts at the Balin Eye & Laser Center in Northampton to help prevent further loss of vision.