Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that costs many people their sight. It is a complication of diabetes that will affect most people who have the disease. Although it can cause the loss of vision in most cases if it is caught early enough it can be managed so that it doesn’t progress that far. In order to catch it early you will need to be checked for the disease on a regular basis. This raises the question of how is that done and what is diabetic retinopathy screening?
Diabetic retinopathy screening is aimed at diagnosing the condition as early as possible. The reason that you would want to do that is because diabetic retinopathy is a progressive disease. The longer it is left untreated the worse it is going to get. In most cases it will result in vision loss if not treated. Unfortunately this happens in far too many cases because the condition was not diagnosed early enough. Most vision loss as the result of diabetes is preventable so there is no reason that people should be losing their sight. Regular screening can help to keep this from happening.
The other big reason that diabetic retinopathy screening is so important is that in many cases the patient won’t know that they have the condition until they start to see their vision deteriorate. In the early stages there are no noticeable symptoms in most people. Often the first many people know of the disease is when they start to have problems with their vision. Unfortunately this is too late to prevent damage to the vision. Treatment can keep the problem from getting worse but it can’t correct damage to the vision. This is why early screening is so important.
The question then becomes what is diabetic retinopathy screening and how is it down. Normally it is done with a standard eye test. If you have diabetes your eye doctor should be doing what is called a dilated eye exam at every check up. This involves using special drops so that your eyes will dilate. This allows the doctor to see the retina so that he can look for the early signs of diabetic retinopathy. If he sees them he will then perform further tests in order to confirm that you have the disease.
If diabetic retinopathy screening reveals that you have the condition you will need to make sure that you get it treated. During the early stages of the disease this consists of little more than making sure that you keep your diabetes under control. However if you are in the later stages of the disease you will likely need laser eye surgery to correct the problem. Since it is much easier to deal with the problem if it is still in the early stages it is a good idea to have regular diabetic retinopathy screening if you have diabetes. Ideally you should have it done at least once a year and even more frequently if you are in a high risk group.