Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetes complication that affects eyes. It is caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina). At first, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms or only mild vision problems. Eventually, it can cause blindness.
The early stages of diabetic retinopathy usually have no symptoms. The disease often progresses unnoticed until it affects vision. Bleeding from abnormal retinal blood vessels can cause the appearance of “floating” spots. These spots sometimes clear on their own. But without prompt treatment, bleeding often recurs, increasing the risk of permanent vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy and DME are detected during a comprehensive dilated eye exam that includes:
1. Visual acuity testing: This eye chart test measures a person’s ability to see at various distances.
2. Tonometry: This test measures pressure inside the eye.
3. Pupil dilation: Drops placed on the eye’s surface dilate (widen) the pupil, allowing a physician to examine the retina and optic nerve.
4. Optical coherence tomography (OCT): This technique is similar to ultrasound but uses light waves instead of sound waves to capture images of tissues inside the body. OCT provides detailed images of tissues that can be penetrated by light, such as the eye.