For patients who have diabetes, visiting an ophthalmologist near Chicago for regular exams is particularly important. This is because diabetes places patients at risk of many serious complications, including diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is characterized by damage to the tiny blood vessels located in the retina. When a patient is in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, an ophthalmologist will see very small areas of swelling in the blood vessels, which is subsequently followed by blockage of some of the blood vessels.
As the disease progresses, additional blood vessels develop blockages, which means the retina no longer receives enough blood. Subsequently, the retina instructs the brain to grow new blood vessels, which is known as proliferative retinopathy. Unfortunately, these new blood vessels are quite fragile and can leak blood. As a result, vision loss occurs. Vision loss caused by diabetic retinopathy can also occur when fluid leaks into the macula, causing vision to become blurry. Individuals with diabetes should visit an optical center to have a dilated eye exam at least once per year. An ophthalmologist can provide early treatment for diabetic retinopathy, which may help prevent vision loss.