Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosis
We use several tests to make a diabetic retinopathy diagnosis and determine the disease stage and progress.
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition resulting from damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Many people experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease, and the longer your diabetic retinopathy goes without treatment, the more serious it can impact your eye health and vision.
Diabetic retinopathy diagnosis
An early diabetic retinopathy diagnosis is critical because once damage has occurred, the effects are usually permanent. If you have diabetes, you should see your Henry Ford ophthalmologist once a year for a comprehensive eye exam. During this exam, we’ll conduct a complete medical history and test for:
- Abnormal or leaking retinal blood vessels
- Retinal swelling
- Retinal detachment
- Nerve tissue damage
- Bleeding in the vitreous
We do this through several diabetic retinopathy testing tools, including:
- Visual acuity test: An eye chart test that measures how well you see at various distances.
- Pupil dilation: Diabetic retinopathy is best detected when your eye is dilated and more of the retina is visible. To dilate your eye, your Henry Ford ophthalmologist places drops into your eye to widen the pupil.
- Ophthalmoscopy: A device with a special magnifying lens that allows us to gain multiple views of the retina.
- Tonometry: A standard test to measure the fluid pressure inside the eye for possible signs of glaucoma – another common eye problem in people with diabetes.
Additional diabetic retinopathy tests
Once we have established a diabetic retinopathy diagnosis, we may perform other tests, including:
- Seven-field fundus photography: This advanced imaging system can help to determine the specific stage of diabetic retinopathy as well as the existence and severity of diabetic macular edema.
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT): This test uses ultrasound to produce high-resolution, cross-sectional imaging of your retina without the need for an invasive tissue biopsy. An OCT scan is useful in documenting the severity of macular edema.
- Fluorescein angiography: During this diabetic retinopathy test, a fluorescent dye is injected into a small vein in your arm. As the dye circulates through your eyes, a special camera takes a series of photographs. This helps your ophthalmologist determine the extent and exact location of any new blood vessels growing under the retina, and to determine if these vessels are leaking fluid.
These diabetic retinopathy tests also may be used throughout treatment to track your progress.
At Henry Ford, patients come first.
The Henry Ford Department of Ophthalmology is committed to providing our patients with compassionate, personalized care. We feature the most advanced treatments in eye care and are dedicated to vision research – always staying at the forefront of innovation. A leader in Michigan, as well as one of the largest ophthalmology practices in the United States, we treat more than 55,000 patients per year at 12 locations throughout southeast Michigan. In addition, our team works closely with Henry Ford Medical Group physicians in other departments, providing multidisciplinary, coordinated care for those patients who need it.