Diabetic Retinopathy

Shane Clark, OD, FAAO -  - Optometrist

Infinity EyeCare

Shane Clark, OD, FAAO

Optometrist located in Rapid City, SD

Diabetic Retinopathy Specialist
Diabetic patients in and around Rapid City, South Dakota, can benefit from Dr. Shane Clark’s expert training and experience in diagnosing and treating diabetic retinopathy. Dr. Clark helps patients at his practice, Infinity EyeCare. Diabetic retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness, so schedule regular eye exams to protect your eye health and vision.

Diabetic Retinopathy

by Shane Clark, OD, FAAO

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetics can develop diabetic retinopathy due to high blood sugar levels, which damage the tiny blood vessels in their retinas. The condition can also cause abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina. Also referred to as diabetic eye disease, retinopathy occurs in two stages:

  • NPDR -- or nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy -- where tiny blood vessels in your retina leak and cause swelling, or macular edema, the leading cause of diabetic blindness. If you have this condition, the blood vessels in your retina are nearly closed, preventing blood, and its essential nutrients and oxygen, from reaching your retina.
  • PDR -- or proliferative diabetic retinopathy, the more advanced stage of the disease, which occurs when the retina starts to produce new blood vessels. These new vessels are often fragile and can bleed into your eye and cause scar tissue to develop, which may lead to a detached retina and the loss of both central and peripheral vision.

How is diabetic retinopathy diagnosed?

Some of the common symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include a swarm of dark floaters in your vision and vision loss. If you are diabetic, you should have regular eye exams so that Dr. Clark is able to examine your retinas. Typically, your pupils will be dilated with drops so that Dr. Clark is able to see into your eyes and examine your retinas. He may also use a yellow dye to check the integrity of the blood vessels in your retina or use a machine to check optical coherence tomography, which is another way to closely examine the retina to check for thickness and other signs of swelling or damage.

How is diabetic retinopathy treated?

The first and most important thing a patient can do to control and prevent diabetic retinopathy is to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. If you control your blood sugar, you will reduce the risk of damage to your retinas. Follow your doctor’s instructions for your diet to regulate your blood sugar levels. If you start to develop diabetic retinopathy, Dr. Clark will provide medicine that can help to reduce swelling in your macula, slowing vision loss and even improving your vision. Steroids may also help to reduce macular swelling. In some cases, Dr. Clark may recommend laser surgery to close off leaking blood vessels and shrink and stop the development of new ones.

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