Discussing Diabetic Eye Disease

This month is when we turn our attention to diabetic eye disease awareness. A chronic health condition related to the body’s ability to use insulin and glucose efficiently, diabetes affects many systems. The effects of diabetes on eye health is one of several important matters for people with this medical problem. The retinal specialists in our practice encourage all diabetic patients to obtain a thorough ophthalmic exam every year, as well as prompt care for any changes in vision.

Common Types of Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetes is an influencing factor on the development of potentially serious eye diseases including glaucoma and cataracts. Some of the common problems that we help patients address include:

  • Diabetic retinopathy. Retinopathy is the term that we use to describe damage to the retina, tissue at the back of the eye. The retina has a rich blood supply from tiny blood vessels. These can be damaged over time due to the effects of diabetes, which causes them to leak blood and fluid into the retina. When fluid builds up here, the retina swells. As a result, vision can become cloudy. Diabetic retinopathy cannot be cured. It requires ongoing management to preserve vision.
  • Diabetic macular edema. This condition is a complication of untreated diabetic retinopathy. The macula is at the center of the retina. Fluid accumulation on this tissue affects some of the most detailed vision abilities. Treatment is designed to stop or, optimally, reverse vision loss.

Can Diabetic Eye Disease be Avoided?

If you have diabetes, this is an important question to ask. It is questions like these that are at the heart of events like Diabetes Eye Disease Awareness Month.

Some of the tips provided by eye health experts include:

  • Keep a close watch on cholesterol levels and blood pressure, as these factors also influence eye disease risk. Both can be managed with diet and exercise. If needed, a doctor may prescribe medication to keep levels under control.
  • Undergo a dilated eye exam every year. Some people with diabetes may be advised to maintain more than one exam a year. Each dilated eye exam observes the retina, macula, and optic nerve for signs of damage in supporting blood vessels. The sooner that abnormalities are found, the more effective treatment will be.
  • Pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes are encouraged to protect eye health by following a low-sugar, high-fiber diet.

To see a retinal specialist in Minnesota, call (800) VRS-2500. VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA has offices in Minneapolis, Plymouth, Edina, and other cities.

Cloudy Vision or Blurry Vision? There is a Difference!

When a person doesn’t see as well as they used to, the common ways they describe their vision are “blurry” and “cloudy.” Often, the terms are used interchangeably, at least by patients. Doctors know that there are unique differences between cloudy vision and blurry vision. They also know that the causes of either blurriness or cloudiness can vary widely. Because your doctor relies somewhat on your description of what you are experiencing, it is important to know how to accurately describe your situation. Here, we’ll provide some assistance.

What is blurry vision?

When you look through a camera lens to snap a photo, there may be an instant during which objects are out of focus. Using an old-school camera, one could manually alter the focus of objects in their frame. The out-of-focus sensation is what we describe as blurry. Objects may be blurry when you look straight at them or when they sit to one side or the other of your peripheral vision.

Blurry vision may be a sign of:

  • Infection
  • Retinopathy
  • Nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Cataracts
  • Injury or abrasion to the cornea
  • Corneal scarring
  • Optic neuritis

What is cloudy vision?

Just like a cloudy day, cloudy vision feels as though you are looking through fog or a dirty window. When vision is cloudy, there may be an urge to blink or wipe the eyes to remove the “film.” When a person develops cloudy vision, they may also experience additional symptoms, such as:

  • Double vision
  • Halos or glare around lights
  • Poor night vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Cloudy vision may be a sign of:
  • Cataracts
  • Macular degeneration
  • Inflammation or infection
  • Dirty or damaged contact lenses

Both cloudy and blurry vision may be caused by potentially serious eye conditions. If either symptom persists or becomes severe very quickly, a comprehensive eye exam should be scheduled right away.

VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA proudly serves multiple Minnesota cities with friendly, experienced care. To schedule a consultation with one of our retina specialists, call (800) VRS-2500 to find an office near you.

Retinopathy of Prematurity: What You Need to Know

Several serious eye conditions may affect a person. However, what we tend to limit our attention to are issues such as visual clarity. An eye exam revolving around this can fall short in the needed accuracy for the average person, let alone a patient who has a higher risk for potentially serious conditions such as retinopathy. Furthermore, rarely do we hear of the risks a child, even a newborn, may face. At Vitreo Retinal Surgery, PA, we know what these risks are and we know how to address them.

What is Retinopathy of Prematurity?

Retinopathy is a term we use to describe damage to the retina. The retina is a small structure that sits next to the optic nerve at the back of the eye. Light lands on the retina and the retina transfers light to the optic nerve, sending it to the brain for interpretation. Usually, retinopathy occurs in older individuals with chronic health problems like diabetes. Another circumstance in which retinopathy may occur, though, is when an infant is born prematurely.

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is generally limited to a small number of infants born before 31 weeks gestational age and who weight less than 3 ½ pounds. In this situation, the infant should undergo a retinal screening exam to assess their risk for retinopathy. Due to the risk of permanent blindness, patients are treated conscientiously by a retinal specialist. Our practice is served by highly trained physicians, including a Pediatric Vitreoretinal Surgeon, to meet the unique needs of our patients.

What is the ROP Screening Like?

The initial screening to asses for Retinopathy of prematurity may be scheduled for four to six weeks of age. The test is performed with dilation, which “opens” the pupils so the doctor can visualize all important structures from the front to the back of the eye. Dilation is achieved with painless eye drops. Looking through a special instrument that does not touch the infant’s eye, the doctor evaluates the blood vessels that have developed around the retina and throughout the eye. Insufficient blood vessel development can indicate retinopathy.

Depending on the findings of the initial evaluation, subsequent screenings may be scheduled every week or two. If the first screening indicates a high risk or the confirmed presence of ROP, treatment options may be discussed immediately. Common treatment options include laser therapy of the periphery blood vessels of the retina, an injection of Intravitreal Anti-VEGF to target abnormal blood vessels, or vitrectomy surgery to remove scar tissue and repair a retinal detachment.

Our team understands the enormous amount of stress that can occur in the event of premature birth and subsequent health concerns. We pride ourselves on providing compassionate care to the patient and their family in every instance. To learn more about retinopathy of prematurity and how it can be treated, call (800) 877-2500 to locate a Minnesota office near you.

What is Retinal Laser Photocoagulation?

Most people are only vaguely familiar with the various tests and treatments that may be performed on the eyes. For many, nothing more than an annual vision exam takes place until they encounter a problem such as one of the various eye diseases. In our Minnesota offices, we specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions that affect the retina. Retinal laser photocoagulation is a technique that may be advisable in several scenarios.

Retinal laser photocoagulation is a procedure that is performed in the office using a local anesthetic to numb the eyes. The laser device emits light that gets absorbed into a local area of ocular tissue, where it causes the formation of scar tissue. The scar tissue can seal a retinal tear to keep the retina from detaching. The technique can also destroy or seal leaking blood vessels to preserve sight and protect the integrity of the retina. In this instance, photocoagulation may also slow the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye.

Some of the common conditions for which retinal laser photocoagulation may be used include retinal tears, macular edema, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal vein occlusion. The benefit of undergoing this procedure is that the risk of further vision loss is decreased.

What Is Retinal Photocoagulation Like?

We understand that the necessity for any eye procedure can feel unnerving. Retinal procedures are performed after the eye has been numbed with eye drops or another type of local anesthesia. Eye drops to dilate the pupil are also administered. Because dilation takes time to wear off, patients need to have a loved one bring them to their appointment and drive them home. Once the procedure begins, it is typically over within 15 to 20 minutes. A contact lens may be inserted over the front of the eye. This can help focus the laser. The doctor directs the point of light from the laser to targeted areas. Here, tissue sustains minor burns; not enough to affect vision but enough stimulate the formation of necessary scar tissue.

During the procedure, slight pinprick sensations may be felt as laser light touches tissue at the back of the eye. Bright flashes of light may also be noticed. Because only local anesthesia is used, patients can talk with their doctor throughout their procedure and let them know if they become uncomfortable.

After retinal laser photocoagulation, vision will be slightly blurry and the eyes will be extra sensitive until the pupils return to normal. The treated eye may feel mildly sore for a few days. For a short time, certain activities may need to be avoided, such as strenuous exercise. Thorough post-treatment care instructions are provided to facilitate optimal healing.

We proudly provide retinal care to patients in areas including St. Paul, Duluth, Minneapolis, Oakdale, and more. To locate a retina specialist near you, call (800) VRS-2500.

If You Have Diabetes, You Need a Different Kind of Eye Exam

Certain medical conditions have a far reach in the body. Diabetes is one of them. Research has linked several risks to the continual elevation of blood glucose levels. Many of the secondary concerns related to diabetes involve the effect that too much glucose has on the walls of the veins throughout the body.

As you may know, the eyes have a complex network of tiny blood vessels. Because these vessels are so small and delicate, they are susceptible to the weakening that diabetes can cause. For this reason, people who have been diagnosed with diabetes are strongly encouraged to undergo a thorough diabetic eye exam as recommended by their physician.

Diabetic eye conditions that are concerning include general blurriness and a significant increase in the risk of glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a direct result of chronically high blood sugar. Over time, the deterioration of blood vessels in the eye leads to fluid seeping into the ocular structure. The retina is a vital part of the eye, located at the back wall adjacent to the optic nerve. The retina is responsible for passing light to the optic nerve so it can be transmitted to the brain. When fluid continually leaks from ocular blood vessels and onto the retina, damage occurs little by little. Without detection and proper treatment, diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy is reportedly one of the leading causes of blindness. What we want our patients to know is that they have some degree of control over this risk. Clinical practice has demonstrated a high rate of success in the management of diabetic retinopathy when treatment is conducted early. Diabetic eye exams assist in this goal.

What is Involved in a Diabetic Eye Exam?

One of the primary differences between a routine eye exam and a diabetic eye exam is the inclusion of special tests that observe the retina, blood vessels, optic nerve, and other structures. These include:

  • Retinal photography using a special digital camera
  • Fluorescein Angiography is a special form of imaging that involves an injection of dye into the arm. The dye travels to the blood vessels of the eye, which are then observed with a special digital camera.
  • Ocular Coherence Tomography is a noninvasive type of imaging that observes the retina in real time, providing immediate results.

VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA proudly serve physicians and patients in areas including Plymouth, Duluth, Minneapolis, St. Cloud, and more. To locate an office near you, call 800) VRS-2500.

Retinal Health is an Important Aspect of Long-Term Wellness

What is the Retina?

When we think of our eyes, we may know there are multiple working parts. There is the lens that takes in light, and the cornea, through which light travels on its way to the back of the eye. It is here, at the back of the eye, where the retina is positioned. This thin layer of tissue has numerous light-sensitive cells that transmit light as neural signals. These signals pass through the optic nerve to the brain, where visual recognition is formed. Both the optic nerve and the retina are outgrowths of the brain. Both are vital to the quality of our vision.

How the Retina Affects Vision

There are two kinds of cells on the retina: cones and rods. These cells are called photoreceptors and each work in a specific way to formulate visual images:
•Cones are cells that live in the macula, the central part of the retina. Cones are cells that detect color and detail. Within the macula, cones facilitate functions including reading and writing, typing and texting, and recognizing small details of appearance in an object or person.
•Rods are cells situated along the outer border of the retina. These photoreceptors are involved in managing vision at night and in areas where lighting is poor.

Signs of Retinal Problems

There are a few ways in which the retina may be affected, from a tear to diabetic retinopathy to detachment. Symptoms include:
•Persistent blurry vision.
•Flashes of light in one or both eyes. This may occur upon blinking.
•Sudden onset of dark spots across the field of vision (floaters).
•Progressive reduction in peripheral vision. This may appear as a dark shadow at the outer field of vision.

Signs of retinal problems may not become obvious until substantial damage has occurred. It is important to obtain routine dilated eye exams from an ophthalmologist, especially if you have diabetes.

Treating Retinal Damage

Sudden signs of visual disturbance need to be examined right away. If you are experiencing sudden floaters or flashes, obtain immediate medical attention. With prompt care, retinal tears and detachment can be repaired and vision preserved.

There are several ways in which retinal conditions may be treated. A board-certified retinal specialist can be expected to recommend treatment based on the type and severity of the problem. In some cases, a laser device can seal the borders of a retinal tear. Tears can also be “frozen” (cryotherapy). If the retina has detached, it may be repaired with a scleral buckle or gas bubble to hold the proper position.

The team at Vitreo Retinal Surgery, PA has many years of experience diagnosing and treating retinal conditions. To contact a Minnesota office close to you, call (800) VRS-2500.

Is Posterior Vitreous Detachment Serious?

Eye conditions have a way of sounding complicated. What sounds complicated, especially as it pertains to our health, can also sound frightening. Posterior vitreous detachment may be a mouthful but, rest assured, a retinal specialist knows how to diagnose and treat this condition efficiently. The key is getting the right care at the right time.
Vitreous detachments can set off a sudden flurry of floaters. Floaters are the appearance of dark or lighted spots that travel across the field of vision. The condition is relatively common and can usually be treated successfully after a thorough, dilated eye exam confirms the extent of detachment.

What is Vitreous Detachment?

Between the lens and cornea at the front of the eye and the retina and optic nerve at the back of the eye is a substantial area of space (80 percent of the total volume). This space is filled with what we call vitreous or vitreous fluid. The vitreous is typically gelatinous, somewhat like Jell-O. As we age, the collagen fibers that stabilize the vitreous to structures at the front and back of the eye begin to degrade. This deterioration of collagen subsequently causes the vitreous to break down into more of a liquid substance. The destabilized gel contracts and tugs on the retina. Sometimes tugging is all that happens but, in some instances, the vitreous separates from the retina altogether.

This Sounds Serious!

The thought of different structures in the eye separating sounds serious. We understand why. However, research has indicated that a detached vitreous is less of a concern than one may imagine. It is better for collagen fibers to disconnect than to remain attached and pull on the retina. When this happens, there is a risk that the retina could tear or separate from the back of the eye. It is these two issues that cause a concern for vision loss.

Retinal Tears and Detachments can be Treated

The team at VitreoRetinal Surgery has extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of retinal tears and detachments. We can also help our patients understand their risk for vitreous and retinal detachments.
We are proud to offer advanced retinal services to patients in Minneapolis, MN and surrounding cities. Call (800) VRS-2500 to schedule a visit with us.

Eye Care St. Paul, MN

All Eye Doctors are Not the Same

When it comes to your eyes, there are several aspects to consider. Many people make the mistake of thinking that their annual vision checkup is sufficient eye care. There is much more to the eyes than how well they focus on objects at various distances. To really know your eye health and be able to protect it as you age, it is necessary to know how eye specialists differ from one another. Here, we look at the optometrist, the ophthalmologist, and the retinal specialist.

What Is an Optometrist?

An optometrist is the eye specialist who examines your vision. This OD, or doctor of optometry, can address refractive conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and presbyopia, among others. An optometrist can also diagnose and treat eye infection and dry eye syndrome. If a potentially serious eye condition is suspected by an optometrist, a referral may be made to an ophthalmologist.

What Is an Ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who has extended their medical education another few years beyond four years of medical school to specialize in vision care and diseases of the eye. The extensive training an ophthalmologist completes enables them to diagnose and treat a wide variety of eye diseases, including cataracts and glaucoma, and treat them with medication or surgery.

What is a Retina Specialist?

A retinal specialist is an ophthalmologist who has extended their education another one to two years after a three-year ophthalmology residency. The additional education focuses on conditions and diseases that specifically affect the retina and vitreous, the clear gel that fills the central part of the eye. The retinal specialist typically sees patients that are referred by their general ophthalmologist for confirmation and treatment of some type of retinal injury or disease. Treatment often involves advanced surgical techniques or the latest, proven nonsurgical modalities.

Trust Your Vision to Vitreo Retinal Surgery

Vitreo Retinal Surgery is a recognized retinal specialty practice that is centered around high-quality patient care. Our board-certified ophthalmologists frequently hold leadership positions in professional societies and remain at the forefront of their medical specialty. We consider it an honor to receive referrals from our esteemed colleagues and the trust of local physicians as well as our patients.

Our staff provides friendly, professional care to patients in multiple cities, including St. Cloud, Minneapolis, Plymouth, and more. To locate an office near you, call  (800) VRS-2500.

What Floaters and Flashes have to do with Retinal Health | VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA | Minneapolis MN

Common Questions about Floaters

As retinal specialists, we frequently hear questions about visual distortions. Floaters, the appearance of a speck of light or foreign object drifting across the field of vision, are quite common. Here, we want to discuss the questions that our patients ask and what you need to know if you begin to notice floaters in your own vision.

What is an eye floater?

A floater is the appearance of some type of spot or worm-like shape moving across the eye. The “spot” is actually a clump of protein that has formed inside the eye.

How can I identify a floater?

Floaters appear in a number of forms. Some people describe floaters as cobwebs moving through their vision when they are looking at a broad, blank visual field. A floater may look like hairs, birds flying way off in the distance, black dots, or bright lights. Floaters may move along with the eye as observation moves from one object to another. Sometimes spots move when observation stays on a singular object. Often, when a person tries to catch on to a floater, the apparition disappears momentarily.

What causes floaters in the eye?

Floaters are made up of protein molecules in the eye. These clumps of proteins develop because, with age, the gel-like fluid that fills most of the space in the eye changes in consistency. Instead of staying dense and gelatinous, the vitreous becomes more fluid and watery. As this happens, clumps of protein have nothing to do but float. When they do, they cast shadows onto the retina as light passes through the eye. It is the shadows on the retina that appear as floaters in the field of vision.

Typically, floaters are a visual distortion that is related only to the aging process. Eye injury or a retinal tear or detachment could also cause floaters.

Should I be concerned about floaters?

Most adults experience floaters at some point as their vitreous matter changes. Floaters are typically not perceived as dangerous, except in instances in which numerous floaters appear suddenly.

The sudden onset of floaters in the eye could indicate a retinal tear or detachment, which occurs when the shrinking vitreous pulls on the retina at the back of the eye. Depending on the degree of tugging, the retina may partially detach from the back wall of the eye. A retinal tear or detachment may also cause symptoms such as shadowing across the field of vision. If severe floaters and shadowing come on quickly or worsen quickly, emergency medical care should be sought.

Floaters should not be a significant cause for concern. However, if spots in your field of vision are disruptive, you may benefit from treatment with a retinal specialist.

We are pleased to serve patients in areas including Duluth, St. Cloud, Edina, and more. For more information on retinal services, call (800) VRS-2500.

What is Posterior Vitreous Detachment and is it Serious?

Any term that refers to the body and includes the word “detachment” can sound frightening. Posterior vitreous detachment is an eye condition that sounds far worse than it may be. In some cases, treatment never becomes necessary. In some cases. Because there is a slight chance that symptoms of posterior vitreous detachment could indicate a serious eye problem, it is critical that an ophthalmic exam takes place right away.

How to Spot Vitreous Detachment

The number one indicator of a potential threat to your eyesight is the sudden onset or increase in floaters. This visual phenomenon looks like tiny shapes or spots of light that drift across your visual field when you move your eyes from one object to another.

The reason that floaters occur is that the vitreous, or gel-like substance that fills the space between the front and the back of the eye, degrades. The vitreous is tethered to a base near the front of the eye by small collagen fibers. These fibers are also present at the back of the eye to secure the vitreous to the retina and the optic nerve.

Over time, collagen fibers throughout the whole body begin to break down, including in the eye. This deterioration of collagen leads to the liquefication of the vitreous. The gelatinous matter becomes somewhat unstable and fluid, causing contraction that may separate the vitreous from the back of the eye. Floaters signify the stringy strands of the degrading vitreous casting shadows on the retina.

Usually, floaters decrease spontaneously over a few months’ time and no further symptoms occur. The collagen fibers that once connected the vitreous to one of its bases break away and no permanent damage is done. Sometimes, though, the fibers do not break easily. Instead, they pull on the retina and pose a risk of tear or retinal detachment.

Very few people who experience posterior vitreous detachment also develop retinal problems. If the retina were to tear or detach, treatment would need to be administered right away to seal this part of the eye. This is often done with cryotherapy or laser therapy or, in some cases, surgery to reattach the retina. When conducted early, treatment for retinal tears and detachment is over 90 percent successful.

VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA is proud to serve patients in St. Paul, Blaine, Minneapolis, and other MN cities. For more information on our services, call (800) VRS-2500.