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Prevent Vision Loss from Diabetic Retinopathy with Early Detection

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you are likely at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. This condition is caused when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina. Dr. Stephen Godlewski offers comprehensive treatment at his Snellville, GA, practice to protect your vision from the effects of diabetes. Coordinating carefully with endocrinologists and retina specialists at the local hospital, he can provide care for both mild and severe cases.

Illustration of healthy eye and eye with diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy often results in the abnormal growth of fragile blood vessels which are prone to leaking. 

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that affects individuals with diabetes. High blood sugar levels can cause damage to blood vessels, causing these structures to swell and leak or close and stop blood from flowing properly. Occasionally, new and abnormal blood vessels grow on the retina. All of these changes can affect your eyesight and lead to vision loss. 

If you have diabetes, it is crucial to regularly visit an ophthalmologist to minimize your risk of permanent vision loss.

Non-Proliferative

Many people with diabetes have non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR). In this stage, tiny blood vessels leak, causing the retina to swell. When the macula, a small but important area in the center of the retina, swells, it is called a macular edema. Macular edemas are the most common reason why patients suffering from diabetes lose their vision.

Proliferative

The proliferative stage of diabetic retinopathy, PDR, is characterized by the growth of new blood vessels in the retina. The new blood vessels are fragile and often leak into the vitreous, the jelly-like substance that fills the middle of the eye. If there is extensive bleeding, your vision can become completely blocked. PDR is very serious and can cause the loss of both your central and peripheral (side) vision.

Symptoms

In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, your vision may appear blurry, while in more severe stages, vision can be lost entirely. If you have diabetes, it is crucial to regularly visit an ophthalmologist. A comprehensive eye exam can often detect the condition before you even notice symptoms. If you do notice changes in one or both eyes, contact our team right away to minimize your risk of permanent vision loss. 

Diagnosis

OCTThe best way to diagnose diabetic retinopathy is a dilated eye exam. During the exam, Dr. Godlewski will administer drops to dilate your pupil, allowing him to see the inside of your eye through a special lens. In some cases, he will conduct additional tests such as a fluorescein angiography or optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan. These tests can show blocked blood vessels and indications of macular swelling.

Treatment

Your treatment will be individually tailored based on what Dr. Godlewski discovers during your exam. To facilitate the best possible treatment plan, we can coordinate care with experts at the local hospital, including retina specialists and endocrinologists. There are several possible methods for slowing the disease’s progress and preventing further vision loss. 

Blood Sugar and Blood Pressure Management

Controlling your blood sugar and blood pressure can help slow and even prevent vision loss. In some cases, you may even regain some vision. Your doctors can provide dietary recommendations and prescribe medications to keep your blood sugar and blood pressure within healthy ranges. 

Medications

There are a few types of medication that can treat diabetic retinopathy. Anti-VEGF (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor) medication can reduce swelling of the macula, slowing vision loss and possibly improving vision. Another option to reduce macular swelling is steroid medications. Both of these treatment options are administered via injection.

Laser Treatment

Laser treatment, or photocoagulation, can seal leaking blood vessels and reduce swelling of the retina. These techniques can also help shrink blood vessels and prevent further growth. Sometimes more than one treatment is necessary to obtain optimal results. 

Vitrectomy

In cases of advanced PDR, Dr. Godlewski may recommend a surgery called a vitrectomy, which removes vitreous gel and blood from leaking vessels at the back of your eye. This procedure allows light rays to focus properly on the retina again. A vitrectomy can also remove scar tissue from the retina.

Put Your Vision First

Diabetic retinopathy is a very real risk for anyone with diabetes. It is important to see your eye doctor regularly to minimize your risk of vision loss. Contact our office online or call (770) 979-1144 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Godlewski today. 

MessageOur Staff

Four years ago, Dr. G performed cataract surgery and my -10 and -11 nearsighted vision is almost totally corrected. I could not be more pleased. He is a perfectionist who does not like to lose. THAT is the doctor for ME! A review from Vitals.com

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