Diabetic Retinopathy: From Diagnosis to Treatment
Diabetes can affect many aspects of your health, including your vision. One of the most serious eye diseases that can affect diabetic patients is diabetic retinopathy. In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy presents little or no symptoms. If left untreated, it can lead to vision loss and blindness. Dr. Jason H. Nakagawa is a member of the American Diabetes Association who is passionate about helping diabetic patients maintain their vision and overall health. To detect diabetic retinopathy in its earliest stages, he recommends a diabetic eye exam at his Marina Del Rey, CA, office every six months.
What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy occurs in diabetic patients whose blood sugar levels cause damage to the blood vessels within the retina, the light-sensitive lining located at the back of the eye. When these blood vessels become swollen due to an excess of sugar in the bloodstream, they can weaken or close, preventing blood flow.
There are two forms of diabetic retinopathy. Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) occurs when diabetes damages small blood vessels, causing a thickened or swollen retina and blurred vision.
The other more advanced form is proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), which occurs when new blood vessels grow from the retina into the vitreous. This results in bleeding and scarring that can lead to retinal detachment and cause severe vision problems. Ultimately, if left untreated, the disease can lead to vision loss.
Because early detection can help Dr. Nakagawa treat diabetic retinopathy before it causes significant vision loss, it is important for diabetic patients to undergo exams every six months.
Signs and Symptoms
As it progresses, diabetic retinopathy can present symptoms such as:
- A rapid onset of floaters or spots
- Changes from poor vision to clear vision
- Blurry vision
- Dark areas in your field of vision
- Poor night vision
Detecting Diabetic Retinopathy
Dr. Nakagawa will begin the exam by dilating your pupils with special eye drops. This allows him to see the inside of your eye through a special lens. At this time, he may also perform fluorescein angiography to view the inside of the retina. As the fluorescein travels through your blood vessels, a camera will take photos of the retina and its blood vessels. If there are blockages, leakages, or abnormal blood vessel growth, it may indicate diabetic retinopathy.
Your treatment will be determined by the results of your tests:
Dr. Nakagawa can work with your endocrinologist to protect your vision by controlling your glucose levels. Maintain an active lifestyle, take your medications as prescribed, and eat a healthy diet to prevent further vision loss.
Corticosteroid injections can reduce macular swelling and stop abnormal blood vessels from forming, helping to stop vision loss.
Prevent or Delay Diabetic Retinopathy
By controlling your blood sugar and living a healthy, active lifestyle, you can prevent the onset of diabetic retinopathy. Because early detection can help Dr. Nakagawa treat diabetic retinopathy before it causes significant vision loss, it is important for diabetic patients to visit our practice every six months. To schedule your diabetic eye exam, call us at (310) 340-6925 or request an appointment online.
Dr. Jason H. Nakagawa
Dr. Nakagawa has been practicing optometry since 1994. He is a member of multiple prestigious organizations, including:
- American Academy of Optometry
- American Optometric Association
- National Optometric Association
- The National Association of Patient Practitioners
- American Diabetes Association