What You Need to Know About Diabetic Retinopathy

What You Need to Know About Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy, a common complication of diabetes, is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States. This condition arises from changes in the blood vessels of the retina, leading to blood leakage, the buildup of waste, and the formation of abnormal blood vessels. In severe cases of diabetic retinopathy, eye injections may be necessary to prevent new blood vessel growth and reduce swelling in the retina. Let’s delve into when these eye injections are required and how they are determined through a comprehensive examination.


Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the retina, a light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye. These blood vessels may leak, leading to swelling and distortion of the retina. Additionally, blood vessel abnormalities may develop, causing the growth of fragile vessels that can easily rupture and bleed into the eye.

If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can progress and cause severe vision loss. That’s why it’s crucial for individuals with diabetes to undergo regular eye examinations to detect any signs of retinopathy and commence timely treatment.


Examination for Eye Injections

When it comes to determining the need for eye injections to treat diabetic retinopathy, an eye doctor will conduct a thorough examination. This evaluation typically involves the following steps:


  1. Visual Acuity Test

This standard test measures your visual clarity at different distances. Although it is not directly related to diabetic retinopathy, it helps to establish your overall visual health and can identify any other refractive errors or ocular conditions that may coexist with retinopathy.


  1. Dilated Eye Examination

During a dilated eye examination, eye drops are used to enlarge the pupil, allowing the doctor a better view of the structures at the back of the eye, including the retina and blood vessels. Using special instruments, the doctor will thoroughly examine these areas and look for any signs of diabetic retinopathy, such as swelling, blood leakage, or abnormal blood vessel growth.


  1. Additional Imaging Tests

In some cases, the eye doctor may perform additional imaging tests to gain a more detailed view of the retina and assess its condition. These imaging tests include:

Fluorescein Angiography: This diagnostic procedure involves injecting a dye into a vein in your arm. As the dye circulates in your bloodstream, photographs are taken to track its movement through the blood vessels at the back of the eye. This test helps identify any damaged blood vessels, leakage, or abnormal blood flow.

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT): This non-invasive imaging test uses light waves to create cross-sectional images of the retina. It provides detailed information about the thickness of the retina, fluid accumulation, and the presence of any cysts or swelling.

Based on the findings from the dilated eye examination and additional imaging tests, the eye doctor will determine the severity of diabetic retinopathy and evaluate the need for eye injections.


When Are Eye Injections Necessary?

Eye injections, also known as intravitreal injections, are typically reserved for cases of severe diabetic retinopathy. They are administered directly into the vitreous gel, the jelly-like substance that fills the back of the eye. These injections deliver medication that helps address the underlying causes of retinopathy, such as inhibiting the growth of abnormal blood vessels and reducing swelling in the retina.

Eye injections may be recommended in the following cases:

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy: This is the most advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels. Eye injections can help prevent further vessel growth and reduce the risk of bleeding into the vitreous.

Diabetic Macular Edema: Diabetic retinopathy can lead to swelling in the central part of the retina called the macula, affecting central vision. Eye injections can help reduce macular edema, improve vision, and prevent further vision loss.

The decision to administer eye injections is made on an individual basis, taking into account factors such as the severity of retinopathy, visual symptoms, potential benefits, and risks associated with the specific medication used.


Dr. Jorge Malouf and the staff of the Malouf Eye specialize in a variety of ophthalmologic conditions and treatments including cataract surgery, glaucoma surgery, strabismus surgery, neuro-ophthalmology exams, oculoplastics, diabetes and more. Call our ophthalmologist in Tampa, FL today at 813-798-2020 if you are interested in learning more about eye injections for diabetes. Our eye doctor provides only the highest quality eye care and surgical services amongst eye doctors in the Tampa, Florida area.