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Detecting Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that affects people with […]

By Published On: 26 October 20123.2 min read

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that affects people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. This condition is caused by damage to the blood vessels of the retina or the light sensitive tissue at the back of your eye. At the onset, diabetic retinopathy may not have any symptoms. It may cause minor vision problems that you may take for granted. As it progresses, however, the condition worsens and it can even lead to blindness. Thus, it is highly important that this disease be detected early on so your doctor can recommend appropriate treatments.

The moment you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is best to start having regular eye exams so you can monitor whether or not you have developed diabetic retinopathy.

Here are some tests that your doctor may perform:

Dilated Eye Exam

  • This test is an essential part of a comprehensive eye exam. It is used to detect and diagnose various eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy.
  • Special eye drops will be applied on your eyes to help your pupils open widely.
  • Special lenses will be placed in front of your eyes while your doctor examines the internal structures of your eyes with a special microscope.
  • Through this test, your doctor will be able to examine your retina and the other structures inside your eye.

Visual Acuity Test

  • This test evaluates the sharpness and clarity of your vision by measuring how well you can see letters on an eye chart that is 6 meters away from you. This is the common eye test that most people are familiar with, especially those who are getting eye glasses or contact lenses.
  • This test can detect small changes in your vision that may be indicative of a serious eye condition.

Fluorescein Angiography

  • A special dye will be injected into a vein in your arm.
  • A camera will be used to take high resolution images of the special dye as it passes through the veins and arteries of your retina.
  • This test enables your ophthalmologist to check the blood flow in the choroid and retina so he can identify if and where blood may be pooling or leaking in your retina.

Fundus Photography

  • A special retina camera will be used to take digital pictures of the back part of your eye.
  • The images will be used to assess the health of the vitreous, macula, optic nerve, retina and its blood vessels.
  • The pictures may be viewed on a computer to inspect the eye for any changes in the retina or for any signs of diabetic retinopathy.


  • This is a painless, non-invasive and uncomplicated examination done to view the anterior chamber or the front part of your eye.
  • A special mirror will be placed lightly on the surface of your eye and a narrow beam of bright light will be pointed to your eye.
  • While this is rarely performed to detect diabetic retinopathy, it is useful because it helps your optometrist view certain angles of your eye. It may be used to detect glaucoma, another eye condition that diabetics are at risk for.
  • In very advanced cases of diabetes new blood vessel formation can occur on the iris, which then grow into the drainage system of the eye.  This in turn can block it leading to uncontrollable glaucoma.  By detecting these new blood vessels early aggressive treatment can be started to save the eye from blindness.

Optical Coherence Tomography

  • This is a non-invasive imaging technique wherein high resolution cross-sectional images of your retina are taken with the use of a special light.
  • This is used in detecting diabetic retinopathy because it enables your optometrist to document and measure the thickness and the potential swelling of your retina.
  • This scan is extremely beneficial in monitoring for subtle cases of diabetic macula oedema, which is a leading cause of diabetic type blindness.

At The Eye Practice we use Optical Coherence Tomography on all diabetic patients.


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