Diabetic retinopathy strikes more than half of people with diabetes, says the American Society of Retina Specialists. The longer you have diabetes, the bigger your risk.
That's especially true if you don't keep your blood sugar under tight control. Chronically high blood sugar damages very small blood vessels in the retina, and that's the cause of diabetic retinopathy.
Two main types of diabetic retinopathy exist, says Mayo Clinic.
Early stages of the disease can be symptomless, which makes it very important to get regular comprehensive dilated eye exams. The National Eye Institute says early detection and treatment can reduce blindness risks by 95 percent.
Your doctor will dilate your eyes to examine the center, the back, and your optic nerve. The test is painless, and it's often over quickly.
If you do have retinopathy, your doctor can refer you to a specialist for treatment. Your doctor might choose:
Controlling diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol can slow the onset and worsening of diabetic retinopathy.
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Medicare Part B may cover one yearly exam for diabetic retinopathy, as long as the exam is conducted by an eye doctor who has been approved by your state.
You must be enrolled in Medicare Part B and have diabetes in order for Medicare to cover your annual eye exam. For more information.
A fluorescein angiography is a medical procedure in which a fluorescent dye is injected into the bloodstream. The dye highlights the blood vessels in the back of the eye so they can be photographed.
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