Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosis
In many instances, diabetic retinopathy goes unnoticed and undiagnosed at first because the early stages of the disease do not cause any noticeable symptoms. It is common for people not to realize they have diabetic retinopathy until they have lost vision to the disease (possibly forever). Early diagnosis offers the best chances for successful diabetic retinopathy treatment and vision preservation. California Retina Associates offers complete diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy in San Diego and the surrounding Southern California areas.
Dilated Eye Exam
Like other eye diseases, diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam with an ophthalmologist. Prior to the exam, your eyes will be dilated with special drops to enable our specialists to see more clearly inside your eyes. During the exam, the doctor will look for abnormal or leaking blood vessels, blood in the vitreous humor, scar tissue and signs of retinal detachment. If you have had a dilated eye exam in the past, you are already aware that your vision may be slightly blurry for several hours, until the drops wear off.
Diagnostic Testing for Diabetic Retinopathy
In addition to a dilated eye exam, our doctors will perform some special tests to look for signs of diabetic retinopathy. Two of the most popular tests used in the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy are fluorescein angiography and optical coherence tomography (OCT).
During the fluorescein angiogram test, a dye or contrast agent is injected into your arm. This dye travels through the blood vessels of the body, and can be seen flowing through the tiny blood vessels in your retina. Our San Diego diabetic retinopathy doctor will take a series of photographs of the inside of your eyes as the dye is circulating. They will use the images to look for blood vessels that are leaking, which is consistent with a diabetic retinopathy diagnosis. They will also look for blood vessels that are closed. And, they can look for the formation of new, abnormal blood vessels, which occur with the more advanced type of diabetic retinopathy (i.e., proliferative diabetic retinopathy).
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
Optical coherence tomography is a test that involves scanning your retina with a special camera and creating detailed cross-images of the retina’s thickness. These special images are very useful for identifying fluid and swelling in the retina, including the macula, that could indicate diabetic retinopathy or diabetic macular edema.
In addition to the eye exam and the aforementioned tests, the doctor may also measure your eye pressure to determine whether it is elevated (which can suggest glaucoma). Other tests may be performed to look for signs of cataracts, or a clouding of the eye’s naturally clear lens.
Schedule a Diabetic Eye Exam
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you should be seen regularly by a reputable ophthalmologist to check for signs of diabetic retinopathy and related complications.