Diabetic Retinopathy

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

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.

Graphic describing 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.

Diabetic Retinopathy Northampton

It is important for patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes to be carefully evaluated yearly by an ophthalmologist or eye surgeon. Dr. Balin uses advanced testing equipment known as the Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) to detect Diabetic Retinopathy in patients. This advanced imaging system produces microvasculature images of the retina.  Dr. Balin is able to use this imaging to accurately diagnose the condition and recommend the most effective treatment plan.  The OCT test is administered by  Nancy Balin, MD, FACS, at the Balin Eye & Laser Center in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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