Diabetic Eye Exams in Rochester Hills, Troy & Detroit, MI

At Oakland Eye Clinic we offer comprehensive diabetic retinopathy evaluation and treatments for patients who suffer from this condition as a result of diabetes complications.

Dr. Hakimzadeh is well trained in the latest diabetic retinopathy treatments and has helped many patients overcome this potentially blinding condition.

If you suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it is very important that you undergo comprehensive dilated eye exams each year and/or any time you notice changes in your vision.

If you have diabetes, please read the paragraphs below to learn more about diabetic retinopathy and to schedule your diabetic retinopathy evaluation at Oakland Eye Clinic, serving children and adults in Michigan, including Detroit and Rochester Hills.

Please note that the LASIK procedure is not recommended for those who are at risk for diabetic retinopathy.

It is also important that anyone who suffers from diabetes is at risk for this eye condition, including former cataract surgery patients and those who suffer from presbyopia.

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a potentially blinding eye condition characterized by the changes to blood vessels in the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye.

The blood vessels on the retina may become irregular, swollen, irritated, and even leak fluid, thereby affecting the patient’s vision. Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive eye disease, meaning it gets worse over time, especially when not treated properly and in a timely manner.

Diabetic Retinopathy generally has four stages:

  1. Mild Nonproliferative: at this sage, diabetic retinopathy is characterized by small, circular, swollen spots inside the retina blood vessels.
  2. Moderate Nonproliferative: at this stage, blood vessels that nourish the retina become blocked and affect vision.
  3. Severe Nonproliferative: as the condition worsens, even more, blood vessels are blocked and the retina is deprived of its essential blood supply. Once this occurs, the body receives signals to grow new blood vessels to nourish the retina.
  4. Proliferative: at this stage, new blood vessels form, however, they are very fragile in nature and often leak fluids and blood. This leakage causes dark spots on the retina, thereby severely blocking vision and leading to blindness.

It is important to note that diabetic retinopathy may not follow the order of these stages. In fact, it can begin at any stage and often may even begin at the proliferative stage, which is very problematic. This is why it is very essential to undergo diabetic retinopathy evaluations on a regular basis and anytime you notice changes in your vision.

Diabetic Retinopathy Causes and Prognosis

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by diabetes, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In fact, more than 45 percent of Americans with diabetes suffer from diabetic retinopathy, although not all are at advanced stages.

The prognosis for diabetic retinopathy greatly depends on prompt intervention and medical treatment. If you notice any changes in your vision, it is essential that you undergo evaluation and treatment right away.

When treated in a timely manner, diabetic retinopathy vision-saving procedures can be successful in 95 percent of cases.

Diabetic retinopathy may affect vision in two distinct ways:

1.    Proliferative retinopathy: abnormal blood vessels will leak blood into the center of the eye, thereby, blurring vision.
2.    The fluid and blood from the abnormal blood vessels can leak into the center of the macula. The macula is the part of the eye where sharp, straight-ahead vision is experienced. The fluid causes the macula to swell, thereby affecting vision. This is called macular edema. More than half of patients with diabetic retinopathy have macular edema.

Both macular edema and proliferative retinopathy can develop without any warning. If you see dark spots in your vision, or floating dark circles, please see an eye doctor immediately.

Normal Vision
Normal vision
Same scene viewed by a person with diabetic retinopathy
Same scene viewed by a person with diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosis and Treatment Options

To diagnose diabetic retinopathy and determine its stage and treatment options, Dr. Hakimzadeh will perform a comprehensive diabetic retinopathy eye exam, which will include the following:

  • Visual acuity test: This test simply measures how well you can see at various distances. It is much like a regular vision evaluation test.
  • Dilated eye exam: During this test, Dr. Hakimzadeh will administer eye drops in your eye to dilate your pupils, which will allow her to use a magnifying glass to evaluate the damage to the retina. The eye drops may blur your close-up vision for several hours.
  • Tonometry: This test is used to measure the pressure inside the eye. A special instrument is used for this test and you will be given numbing eye drops so that you do not feel any discomfort caused by the instrument.
  • Fluorescein angiogram: This eye exam requires the use of a special dye that is injected into the patient’s arm. The dye travels to the eye and illuminates all its parts, thereby allowing our doctor to see even the smallest changes to all vital parts of the eyes, even blood vessels. As this occurs, pictures are taken for reference. This is much like an x-ray of the eye if you will.

Diabetic retinopathy evaluation will allow Dr. Hakimzadeh to see if you have any leaking blood vessels, retinal swelling called macular edema, and damaged nerve tissue.

Once she is able to determine the level of damage, she can draft a customized treatment plan that will halt the progression of the disease and preserve and/or improve your vision.

Proliferative Retinopathy Treatments

Diabetic retinopathy is treated at the proliferative stage and the macular edema stage.

Proliferative retinopathy is treated with a surgical laser. During this procedure, Dr. Hakimzadeh uses the scatter laser treatment to shrink the abnormal blood vessels in the retina. This treatment is generally accomplished in two to three treatment sessions and does not deliver perfect results.

While you will experience better vision overall, the scatter laser treatment may affect your side vision, night vision and color vision. The sooner you receive treatment, the less severe the side effects, which is why we urge you to get prompt evaluation.

If proliferative retinopathy is severe, Dr. Hakimzadeh may suggest vitrectomy. This is an advanced procedure during which the leaked blood is removed from the center of the eye. In this procedure, a tiny incision is created in the eye a special instrument is inserted to remove the vitreous gel that is mixed with blood.

The gel is then replaced with a clear, salt-water solution. This clear up your vision, however, the recovery may be somewhat uncomfortable and you may need to spend one night at the hospital and wear an eye patch for a few weeks.

Macular Edema Treatments

Macular edema is treated with laser surgery called focal laser treatment. During this procedure, Dr. Hakimzadeh uses a laser to place several burns in the area where retinal leakage is occurring, thereby, slowing it down. The surgery may be done in one session for some patients; others may require several treatments depending on the level of severity.

You may also need further treatment in the future to control the leakage. However, this procedure has a good outcome and can reduce the risk of severe vision loss by at least 50 percent.

Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment Recovery and Expectations

Treatment recovery for diabetic retinopathy will greatly depend on the nature of the treatment we decide to utilize for the best results. Often, treatments will not give you back 100 percent of your vision but can either halt the progression of the disease or restore functional vision, depending on how quickly it is detected and treated.

If you decide to undergo laser treatment, you will recover fairly quickly and be able to go home the same day, your healing process will be closely monitored by our Dr. Hakimzadeh and her team, and all necessary medications and post-operative instructions will be provided to you.

We will prepare you well for the procedure as well as what to expect after your procedure. If you decide to undergo vitrectomy, you may be asked to spend one night at a hospital and wear an eye patch for several weeks to protect the eyes from potential infections.

If you suspect you may have diabetic retinopathy, please contact us right away, so that we can provide prompt treatment and save your remaining vision. If you experience complete vision loss as a result of diabetic retinopathy, we can help provide low vision services to you so that you can function with your vision loss.

Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment Candidacy

Your treatment candidacy will greatly depend on your medical history and your diabetic retinopathy evaluation exam with our eye doctor. If you are deemed a candidate for any of the procedures offered, we will move forward quickly to help you preserve your vision.

If you are in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, you may not qualify for the treatment options only applicable to patients who suffer from proliferative diabetic retinopathy and macular edema. However, we can provide advice on how to prevent getting to this stage and offer a range of preventative procedures and services.

Current Research and Resources

At this time, The National Eye Institute along with several other organizations is conducting studies that will provide more insight and understanding of how to stop vision loss in patients who have diabetic retinopathy.

The attempt is to develop a drug that will prevent the body from developing fragile blood vessels that leak fluids and blood into the eye and the macula.

Your Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment Evaluation

Please call us right away to schedule a diabetic retinopathy exam if you suffer from diabetes. At your evaluation, Dr. Hakimzadeh will perform several advanced tests in order to determine if diabetic retinopathy is present and at what stage.

This will help us with prompt treatment, all of which aims to preserve your vision. We understand that vision loss can be devastating to you and your family. We will do everything we can to help. Please call us right away if you suffer from diabetes.

Thank You for Choosing Oakland Eye Clinic