Your doctor will examine your eyes to look for changes in the retina. A general practitioner might be able to see some retinal changes with a simple office exam, but you will still need to see an eye doctor for a more thorough exam. Certain findings on an eye exam can lead to the diagnosis of retinopathy, including:
- Leaking blood vessels, changes in the blood vessels (such as closures, beading, or small aneurysms), or new blood-vessel formation (neovascularization)
- Swelling of the retina
- Retinal bleeding
- Fat deposits (exudates) in the retina
- Areas of nerve damage in the retina (cotton-wool spots)
- Formation of scar tissue with detachment of the retina.
Your eye doctor may also do a diagnostic test called fluorescein angiography to look for leaky blood vessels in your eye. To do this, the doctor would inject dye into one of the veins in your arm. The dye travels to your retina, making leaky veins stand out so your doctor can determine which veins are damaged.
Your eye doctor may also order an optical coherence tomography (OCT) exam. This is an imaging test that does not involve any invasive procedures, such as an injection. The OCT exam takes pictures of your retina to look for findings such as a thickened retina and fluid in your retina.
Prevention and Screening
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